Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Russian Student Arrested for Colluding with NRA

They gave a different excuse, but I'm not so sure: Russian who operated pro-gun group arrested for acting as foreign agent
A 29-year-old Russian woman who entered the U.S. on a student visa was charged with seeking to influence American politics on behalf of Russia before and after the 2016 presidential election.

The U.S. arrested Mariia Butina and charged her with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, saying she formed a pro-gun group called the Right to Bear Arms in an effort to infiltrate organizations active in American politics. The U.S. said she was working with a Russian Federation official — the description matches Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank — charged with “developing and executing a plan to identify and exploit personal connections with U.S. persons having influence in American politics who were in positions to advance the interests of the Russian Federation.”

Are we going to arrest any illegal immigrants who try to lobby for open immigration and charge them for seeking to influence American politics on behalf of Mexico, etc?
Torshin this year was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for involvement in what Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described as “a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities.”

The FBI reportedly has been investigating whether Russia siphoned money to the Trump campaign via the National Rifle Association. That’s not alleged in the Justice Department complaint. According to an affidavit from an FBI agent, Butina worked with an unnamed American to jointly arrange meetings with influential Americans, including “an organization promoting gun rights,” to push Russian interests. Another American worked with Butina to arrange a series of dinners between influential Americans and Russian nationals.
While I obviously haven't seen every inch of federal code, I'm not sure I see where the crime is. Arranging dinners?

Butina allegedly provided Torshin with descriptions of her speaking to a political candidate as well as a previous meeting at an annual meeting of a gun-rights group. She also provided biographies of U.S. politicians and executives of a gun rights group, a veiled reference that likely refers to the NRA for the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast.

One of the Americans that talked with Butina allegedly emailed someone else on Oct. 4, 2016, “Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns, I’ve been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key [Political Party 1] leaders through, of all conduits, the [Gun Rights Organization.],” the American wrote.

Those terms likely reference the Republican Party and the NRA. The FBI said that American was believed to be discussing Butina’s efforts to establish a back channel communication for Russian government representatives.
CNN: Butina not a flight risk, her lawyer says at first court appearance
. . . her attorney, Robert Driscoll, asked the federal judge to not keep her in jail any longer.. She's known for nine months she could face a court at some time, especially after the FBI raided her house three months ago, Driscoll said, according to a transcript released Tuesday.

Mariia Butina, also known as Maria, told the judge her name, and Driscoll answered all other questions. The hearing lasted only 13 minutes, and Judge Deborah Robinson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia decided on the spot that Butina should be detained for three days, until at least her next court appearance. Prosecutors feared she would flee the area, according to a transcript released Tuesday.

"She has been publicly, essentially, in the media, accused of being an agent for the government of Russia," Driscoll told the judge on Monday. "She testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in closed session -- which was not public until today -- several months ago, did not flee, cooperated with that request; had her house searched in April by the FBI with 15 agents going through everything she had, did not flee."

When she was arrested Sunday, Butina spent the night in jail. She is charged with conspiracy to act as a foreign agent. If found guilty, she could face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Butina has not yet made a plea. Driscoll seemed to suggest Monday that she may fight the charges.
I'd be more positively disposed to this prosecution if I thought the FBI were working as hard to find dirt on the Russians who lobby to kill fracking in the US, and the people who take that money. Without the part about taking money from a Russian government source, it sounds like free speech to me. Even Russians have it, when they're in the US.  I also question the timing. You hear that, Rod Rosenstein?

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Alexa Davalos" working, but the FMJRA post is conspicuously absent at The Other McCain.

No comments:

Post a Comment