Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

On Monday, federal prosecutors charged Russian national Maria Butina, a lifetime member of the NRA, with being an unregistered agent of the Russian government and accused her spying for Moscow while she studied in the United States.

The move comes as questions continue to escalate about the NRA’s Russian connections during the 2016 campaign.

The indictment was also unsealed just hours after Trump stunned world observers during his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There, Trump accepted Putin’s word over the U.S. intelligence community and seemed to agree that Russia had nothing to do with attackingU.S. elections in 2016.

According to the new spying charges, one goal of the conspiracy that Butina allegedly took part in was to “exploit personal connections with U.S. persons having influence in American politics in an effort to advance the interests of the Russian Federation.”

She allegedly used these connections to “infiltrate organizations active in U.S. politics,” the criminal complaint states.

One of the contacts she had was with an “organization promoting gun rights,” which was identified as the NRA.

“I believe that Butina and the Russian official took these steps in order to infiltrate those groups and advance the interests of the Russian Federation,” FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson wrote in an affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint.

Butina is “known as a protege of Alexander Torshin, a Russian former state banker, who met Donald Trump Jr. for dinner at the NRA’s 2016 convention,” The Guardian reports. “Torshin was placed under sanction by the US in April this year.”

In a Tweet from November 2016, Torshin noted that Butina, “a Russian national who claimed she had been part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia, was, like himself, also a life member of the NRA,” NPR reported.

Butina arrived in the U.S. in August, 2016, just as Trump’s presidential campaign was entering the general election. She attended American University in Washington, D.C., as a graduate student.

The NRA has been under a growing cloud of suspicion regarding its potential role in helping Russian operatives bolster Trump’s campaign. Specifically, there are questions about whether the group was used to funnel Russian funds to the Trump campaign, which would be against the law.

By some estimates, the NRA contributed $70 million to help Trump get elected, a staggering sum for a group that has just a couple million members.

Back in April, the right-wing gun group had to admit that it had accepted money from at least 23 Russian sources, after initially reporting just one Russian donor.

In May, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a damning report, suggesting the Kremlin used the NRA “as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign.”

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have criticized their Republican colleagues for failing to investigate evidence that the NRA served as conduit between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The Democratic intelligence report found that “Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, with the assistance of his deputy, Maria Butina, have used their affiliation with the NRA to cultivate relationships” with U.S. politicians.

Meanwhile, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is reportedly looking at whether Russian entities gave illegal contributions to the NRA that were designed to benefit the Trump campaign.

The NRA today represents one of the GOP’s most loyal political allies. And it’s drowning in allegations of having illegal ties to Russia.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

President Trump boards Air Force One for his return flight home from Florida on July 31, 2020

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Florida senior residents have been reliable Republican voters for decades, but it looks like their political impact could shift in the upcoming 2020 election.

As Election Day approaches, Florida is becoming a major focal point. President Donald Trump is facing more of an uphill battle with maintaining the support of senior voters due to his handling of critical issues over the last several months. Several seniors, including some who voted for Trump in 2016, have explained why he will not receive their support in the November election.

Keep reading... Show less