The NRA and Alleged Russian Operative Maria Butina

The NRA has been in the news repeatedly in connection with the Mueller probe of U.S. ties to Russian operatives. Back in April, Rolling Stone published a lengthy article by Tim Dickinson which detailed the efforts of Russian nationals connected to Vladimir Putin to infiltrate the NRA under the guise of supporting gun rights in Russia. A key event reported in that article was a trip to Russia arranged for NRA executives and donors and accompanied by Maria Butina, recently indicted by the Justice department for conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent.  From Tim Dickinson’s Twitter feed, here is photo of Butina and two NRA leaders in Moscow.

Read the affidavit and the complaint.

To read Tim Dickinson’s Twitter thread on Butina’s Republican contacts, click here.

Maria Butina Got Around

According to the indictment documents, Butina cultivated relationships within Republican party, the NRA, the National Prayer Breakfast, and other Christian right circles (including Eric Metaxas) in order to further the political ends of the Russian government.

In April, the NRA admitted receiving donations from Russians but denied any foreign money went to election ads for Trump. Butina’s indictment has raised new suspicions about why the NRA developed such a friendly relationship with an adversary of the U.S. And then just today, a new filing in federal court alleges that Butina was in a cohabitation relationship with Republican operative with close ties to the NRA (identified by the Rolling Stone and other news outlets as possibly Paul Erickson) as a part of her cover.

President Trump has denied any collusion with the Russian government. However, this indictment and others recently filed paint a picture of relentless activity on the part of the Russian government to infiltrate organizations friendly to Trump and his wing of the Republican party.

I have leaned conservative all my life and I can’t imagine trusting Russians who want to get this close to political power in the U.S. Once upon a time, it was progressives who were accused of being duped by the Russians. Now it appears that Trump Republicans have a special gullibility.

Read Today’s Filing Asking the Court to Prevent Butina’s Flight

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UPDATE (8/1/18) – An earlier version of this article referred to a possible connection to BN Media and Joe Gregory. I learned today from Joe Gregory’s attorney that Gregory sold his interest in BN Media in 2013 and therefore has no involvement with BN Media. I regret the misinformation and apologize to Mr. Gregory for any problem this may have caused. I have corrected this post to reflect this new information.

14 thoughts on “The NRA and Alleged Russian Operative Maria Butina”

  1. Glad to have found your website. It disturbs me that Patheos is now owned by a group that supports the NRA. No wonder that many of the Progressive Christian writers are making less posts than they used to when I started reading Patheos articles.

  2. Why do you doubt the negative NRA column might have led to your ouster? After reading the Butina docs, along with the NYT opinion article that Rustbelt Rick posted, I’m thinking that Joe Gregory probably did not like the cumulative effects of your brand in the Evangelical section. From the NYT article:

    At the same time that it has been infiltrating the political system of the United States, the Russian government has sought to cultivate and influence far-right groups in Europe. It turns out that anti-L.G.B.T. politics are an effective tool in mobilizing religious nationalists everywhere, which is in turn an excellent way to destabilize the Western alliance and advance Russia’s geopolitical interests.

    Anti-L.G.B.T. politics are in this respect no different from the “gun rights” advocacy that Ms. Butina is accused of using to build a bridge between Russian and American leaders via the National Rifle Association.

    You have a habit of debunking all the hokum the Evangelicals put forth regarding gays and lesbians. Other authors stand up for LBGT rights throughout Patheos, but they don’t have your status or credentials and they aren’t writing in the Evangelical section. Through this lens, the suddenness and secrecy involved in the ouster makes more sense. To me, anyway.

    ETA: The easier to read Twitter thread from Tim Dickinson for non-Twitter users.

  3. I wasn’t aware that Gregory is a Gold Circle member of the Council for National Policy.
    Now that is a group of heavy hitter religious right-political operatives.
    Jeff Sharlet wrote the definitive books on this crowd.
    The Family The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power
    C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy
    Have a look at Jeff Sharlet’s twitter feed the past few days since Butina got arrested – and the Russian influence in The National Prayer Breakfast – of which Joe Gregory is front and centre.

    Scary people.
    Seeing the ties BN Media has through Joe Gregory and others, is it time for bloggers of conscience to leave Patheos?

  4. So thankful for Dr. Throckmorton’s reliable, evidence-based reporting. Every Republican and White Evangelical who is silent in the face of such blatant corruption is complicit. With July 2018, we are entering “phase 1” of the eventual demise of White Evangelical Hegemony. It can’t come fast enough.

  5. International (as in between nation-states) diplomacy is dead. It’s now just billionaires and oligarchs scheming with each other to get the best “deal,” while us little people are left to flounder and pick up scraps as best we can.

    Perhaps it’s always been this way. But under this administration its transparently obvious.

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