OH, MARY! Russian spy Mariia Butina is about to sing, and we don't mean "Beauty and the Beast." ABC and The Daily Beast have seen copies of Butina's plea deal, which will be finalized in a DC district court tomorrow. They report that Butina has a full cooperation agreement, meaning she'll tell federal prosecutors all about the Russian plan to murder the Magnitsky sanctions by becoming BFFs with the NRA. HOW YOU LIVIN', DANA LOESCH?

According to ABC, Butina will plead to a conspiracy charge of acting as a covert foreign agent who got in bed with the gunhumpers and godbotherers so she could sweet talk the Republicans who come to sell their asses discuss national policy.

But now, according to the agreement, Butina has acknowledged that with U.S. Person 1's assistance, she drafted a proposal called "Description of the Diplomacy Project" in March of 2015 which was later sent to the Russian Official, in which she said that she had already "laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration" and requested $125,000 from a Russian billionaire to attend conferences and meetings to further develop those ties. The Russian Official, the agreement said, confirmed that her proposal would be at least partially supported.

The government has alleged that U.S. Person 1 "worked with Butina to arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence in American politics," including high-ranking members of the National Rifle Association and organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast, that would ultimately give her a surprising level of access to conservative politicians, including — in one memorable interaction captured on video — to then-candidate Donald Trump.

US Person 1 would be Butina's 56-year-old boyfriend Paul Erickson, who The Daily Beast reports just received a target letter stating that he's under investigation for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. And for being the absolute worst spy ever. Tell us, ABC!

"Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns," Erickson wrote in an October 2016 email to an acquaintance that was later obtained by the FBI, "I've been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key [unnamed political party] leaders through, of all conduits, the [unnamed gun-rights organization]."

And during an FBI raid of Erickson's South Dakota home, investigators discovered a handwritten note suggesting Erickson may have been aware of a possible job offer from Russian intelligence services: "How to respond to FSB offer of employment?" Erickson scratched, an apparent reference to the Russian equivalent of the CIA.

SLICK. Did he also write, "Set up shell company, conspire with Russia to ratfuck American election, and order more bootleg Cialis"?

The Russian Official is Alexander Torshin, who noped out of his position as deputy governor of Russia's central bank two weeks ago when word of Butina's plea negotiations began to leak. Torshin is personally under a fuckton of sanctions and would looooove to get back into the international banking system where he can turn those creaky, old rubles into shiny, clean greenbacks. His buddy Putin would give him ever so many wet, sloppy kisses! So far, NO DICE. But no polonium tea, falling out a window, or car accident either, so ... still a net positive!

Hey, remember that time in July 2015 where Butina reached out to Trump flack Sam Nunberg asking for facetime with Trump at the conservative FreedomFest in Las Vegas, and when she couldn't get a meeting, she just showed up anyway and happened to get called on to ask a question about sanctions?

Trump answers question on Russia at FreedomFest 2015

If you will be elected as president, what will be your foreign politics especially in the relationships with my country? And do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging of both economy? Or you have any other ideas?

Spoiler alert: Donald Trump loves Putin, does not love sanctions.


Shall we take a few wild guesses what other amazing coincidences Ms. Butina might be talking to federal prosecutors about?

  • Was Butina just freelancing when she arranged a trip to Moscow in December 2015 for a delegation of NRA members, or was it part of a Kremlin-coordinated influence plan?
  • Was some portion of the broke-ass NRA's $30 million spending on the 2016 campaign underwritten by their Russian pals, either directly or through straw-man donors, aside from the $2,500 they've already copped to receiving?
  • How did Butina wind up in a scheme with former NRA head David Keene and his wife to import seventy thousand tons of Russian jet fuel?
  • Was there message coordination between the NRA and Russian troll farmers, or was it just a happy accident that they flogged the same poisonous shit?
  • Were there undisclosed contacts between Torshin and members of the Trump campaign?
  • And, most importantly, was it really true love between the Russian hottie and aging US Person 1? Or was Butina using Erickson for his connections?

Ah, well. We'll always have our memories.

Go to jail. Both of you. And stay there.

[ABC / The Daily Beast / WaPo / MoJo]

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CLEAR YOUR CALENDARS FOR FEBRUARY 7! And then fill them back up with whatever the fuck you want, because Michael Cohen has announced through his lawyers that he is too scared to testify before an open session of Congress that day, citing threats to his family from Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.

Wonkette has no reason to believe Cohen isn't being serious here, and NBC News reports Cohen's wife and father-in-law are particularly concerned about their safety if the man who used to call his boss MIS-TURRRR TWUMP goes to Congress and tells the truth this time. Still, we must pause to note that this is the same guy who said this to NPR reporter Tim Mak, back when Mak was at The Daily Beast:

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It's not so fun when the shoe is on the other foot, IS IT, MICHAEL?

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Did Nancy Pelosi do something to give Donald Trump the mistaken impression he has leverage here? We don't remember her doing anything like that!

Trump sent Pelosi a letter this morning to say that, despite how she told him to stay the fuck out of her House because of his government shutdown, he would still be coming to the House on January 29 to deliver his State of the Union address. And for some weird-ass reason, Trump and his advisers in the White House actually thought she would back down. It's both hilarious and alarming that Trump and his people are that stupid, isn't it?

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