Russian Witch Hunt Catches Russian Witch
Have you ever wondered who falls for those Nigerian prince schemes? Who hires rando Travelers to paint the garage? Who thinks the IRS is actually leaving those robot voicemails threatening imminent arrest if you don't send cash today? IT IS REPUBLICANS! (Ever wonder why when you go to right-wing "news" websites, all the ads that take over your browser are for obvious scams? This is why.) The Gaggle of Patsies party are the easiest marks in the world, and they've got their credulous little fingers on the nuclear button. Hooray!
Russian spy Maria Butina's plea agreement was filed this morning in DC federal court, wherein she lays out one prong of the Russian government's influence operation to get rid of those pesky American sanctions that stop oligarchs from parking their looted cash overseas. Guess who figured out that we're governed by a bunch of gunhumping godbotherers who'll do anything you ask if you just take them on a field trip?
Butina pleaded to one count of failing to register as an agent of a foreign government (we'll give you three guesses which one!) and agreed to fully cooperate with the prosecutors, making her the first Russian witch to plead guilty in the Mueller hunt. Her statement of offense describes a conspiracy where Butina, her handler Alexander Torshin, then-Deputy Governor to the Russian Central Bank (who has curiously just retired!), and her boyfriend US Person 1, AKA Paul Erickson, would cozy up to Republicans in order to influence America's foreign policy.
Paul Erickson, CALL YOUR LAWYER! In fact, Erickson received a "target letter" last week, informing him that he's in the DOJ's sights and should prepare to be indicted soon. For being a spy ... uh, we mean an unregistered Foreign Agent. And also a goddamn idiot.
OH NO, BABY WHAT IS YOU DOIN'?
In April 2015, Butina traveled to America to attend a meeting of a "Gun Rights Organization" (who could that be?), where she met a future Republican presidential candidate. So cool!
.@ScottWalker with arrested Russian nationalist and @NRA lifetime member Maria Butina. https://t.co/eNBC00WzUZ— Shannon Watts (@Shannon Watts)1531780892.0
Then Erickson helped Butina prep for a field trip to Moscow with a bunch of NRA bigwigs by providing "his assessment on their degree of political influence in the United States." Check out Sheriff Bling Clarke in the leather vest and pink checked shirt, SO METAL.
Butina also hung around with wingnut Rockefeller heir George O'Neill, AKA "wealthy, connected US Person," who hosted "friendship dinners" to improve Russo-American relations and authored blog posts that have not aged well.
[T]he suggestion that American conservatives might be susceptible to manipulation by foreign officials certainly betrayed a lack of understanding about those American conservatives who have not signed up for membership in good standing among the neoconservatives who dominate the country's right-leaning politics. For that reason, I offer here a broader perspective on those conservatives—they are numerous and prominent—who want to see America pursue international relations far different from what we have seen in recent decades.
See, if we could just quit interfering in Overtherestan and let Russia do what they want in their sphere of influence, the world could live as one. Imagine!
Must've been some fun dinners! How much vodka did Boris and Natasha have to pour before the assembled patsies all agreed that Donald Bonespurs STD Vietnam Trump would bring about world peace? Zazdarovje!
Butina also told prosecutors all about that fun time when she organized an outing for Russians to schmooze at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2017, "to establish a back channel of communication" to the hacks in Trumpland. Once you get those evangelicals eating out of your hand, the GOP will greenlight anything. Just ask Israel!
Jesus Christ, Paul Erickson, you went to law school. Think with the big head, not the little one!
Arrested Russian nationalist and @NRA lifetime member Maria Butina attending the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast. https://t.co/RKLa1T2Bzx— Shannon Watts (@Shannon Watts)1531783097.0
And all the while, Torshin was feeding information back to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, waiting for the day when his country's various influence operations would pay off and those annoying Magnitsky sanctions would finally disappear. Then Torshin and all the other sanctioned Russian billionaires could get back to trading in rubles for shiny Ameros to park in London, Paris, New York, Zurich, Tokyo, or hell, why not ALL OF THE ABOVE.
So the question is, when the Russian octopus was groping us with all its tentacles, probing for weak spots and pressure points, who in Trumpland reached back? Was it Don Jr. in the infamous Trump Tower meeting, Jared looking to get money from sanctioned banks, Trump trying to build a tower in Moscow, Manafort looking for ratfuck assistance from troll farmers, digital campaign manager Brad Parscale coordinating with GRU front Guccifer, Michael Flynn looking to scare up business for his lobbying firm, the NRA laundering Russian money to support GOP candidates, or was it, hell, why not ALL OF THE ABOVE.
LOCK THEM ALL UP.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.