The Dept. of Justice has just announced it has filed charges against a Russian citizen for infiltrating U.S. organizations on behalf of the Russian government.
“Mariia Butina, 29, a Russian citizen residing in Washington D.C., was arrested on July 15,” and charged “with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States.”
Butina is charged with “developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation.
The DOJ also states in its complaint that “from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank. This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.”
Butina, whose first name at times has also been written as “Maria,” has been tied to Alexander Torshin, a Russian lawmaker who is rumored to have ties to the Russian Mafia.
“Torshin and his protégé Maria Butina also share an extraordinary status with America’s largest gun lobbying group,” Mother Jones reported earlier this year, noting that “according to Torshin: ‘Today in NRA (USA) I know only 2 people from the Russian Federation with the status of ‘Life Member’: Maria Butina and I,’ he tweeted the day after Donald Trump was elected president.”
Butina also “asked him [Trump] directly at a campaign event about the future of ‘damaging’ sanctions against Russia.”
UPDATE I: 3:24 PM ET –
FYI, interesting language from the DOJ that counters Trump’s claims earlier today:
In an affidavit filed along with the Maria Butina complaint, an FBI agent in the counterintelligence division describes the threat by the Russian Federation this way…hours after the Trump/Putin presser. https://t.co/zptrmmQTLH pic.twitter.com/PZRKpLAUhu
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) July 16, 2018
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.
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Putin Attacked US 2020 Election to Help Trump Says Just-Released US Intel Community Report
Russian President Vladimir Putin once again attacked the United States, this time during the 2020 election cycle, in order to help President Donald Trump win re-election, according to a just released declassified report from the U.S. National Intelligence Council, which is part of the broader United States Intelligence Community (IC).
“President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.,” one of the report’s key judgments reveals.
The Wall Street Journal adds “Iran carried out a multipronged covert influence operation intended to undercut Mr. Trump’s re-election chances but didn’t directly promote his rivals,” according to the report. China did not actively interfere, the report also states.
“Despite the various foreign campaigns, however, the report said there were no indications any foreign actor had attempted to alter ‘any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 U.S. elections,’ including voter registration systems, individual ballots, vote tabulation systems, or the reporting of results.”
This is a breaking news and developing story.
‘Putin Told Me’: Former White House Officials Say Russian President Convinced Trump of Ukraine Conspiracy Theory
Former top officials from the Trump White House say they “feared” Vladimir Putin convinced President Donald Trump of a widely-debunked conspiracy theory – that Ukraine, and not Russia, attacked the U.S. 2016 election.
“Almost from the moment he took office, President Trump seized on a theory that troubled his senior aides,” The Washington Post reports, that “Ukraine, he told them on many occasions, had tried to stop him from winning the White House.”
That conspiracy theory, debunked and decimated by a now-famous Intelligence Community unanimous consensus that Russia attacked the 2016 election, apparently got into Trump’s head via President Putin.
“The strong belief in the White House was that Putin told him,” one former official said.
One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.”
Apparently it was Trump’s first meetings with Putin, at the July, 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg, that “were a turning point,” the Post reports.
Another former Trump White House official “said the President would say: ‘This is ridiculous. Everyone knows I won the election. The greatest election in the world. The Russians didn’t do anything. The Ukrainians tried to do something.’ ”
Read the entire Washington Post report here.
Putin’s ‘Long Game’ Is to ‘Destroy Western Democracies’ — and the GOP Is Helping Him: Former CIA Officer
As articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump move forward in the U.S. House of Representatives, pro-Trump Republicans continue to insist that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election — a claim that foreign affairs expert Fiona Hill described as total nonsense during her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last month. Regardless, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina recently told an NBC News reporter that in 2016, “Every elected official in the Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton. Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald Trump?” And former CIA officer Alex Finley, in a December 10 article for Just Security, explains why Burr’s assertion is a “false equivalence” that “completely and dangerously mischaracterizes the threat we are facing” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In 2016, Finley explains, some “Ukrainian officials publicly expressed a dislike for candidate Trump” and “looked to hold” some “corrupt” associates of former President Viktor Yanukovych “accountable” — and one of those associates “happened to be Trump’s campaign chairman” (Paul Manafort). But, Finley quickly adds, “Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is aiming to destroy western democracies.”
Those who think that statement about Putin sounds “overblown,” Finley asserts, should consider what Putin told the Financial Times: “The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”
Putin, Finley stresses, is opposed to the very ideal of liberal democracy.
“Russia has been running, and continues to run, a covert intelligence operation aimed at duping westerners and inflaming internal divisions, in order to break down our democratic institutions,” Finley observes. “Putin aims to bring down the western liberal order, which — with the United States at the helm — has generally brought peace and stability to the west for 70 years.”
Republicans, Finley warns, “should ask themselves why Putin sees them as a good partner” in his anti-U.S. goals.
Finley goes on to list some things that the Russian government under Putin’s leadership did in 2016, from hacking Democratic e-mails to running an “influence campaign” through websites like WikiLeaks to infiltrating “the NRA and GOP circles with Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin.”
Moreover, Finley writes, Putin’s government is not only trying to undermine western liberal democracy in the United States, but also, in Italy, France, Germany and other countries that have long been U.S. allies.
“Congressional Republicans have become pansies of Putin in a much larger game,” Finley warns. “This is not about one election or even two elections. Putin is playing a long game aimed at changing the international system in his favor, and Republicans are aiding and abetting him. Does the party of Ronald Reagan really want to be an accomplice to the destruction of the U.S.-led liberal world order?”
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