Russia

Report: The NRA’s Russian Spy Was Selling Access to Putin

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

It's been over a month since Marina Butina was indicted for acting as an unregistered foreign agent, a scheme in which she literally got in bed with at least one senior official from the National Rifle Associate (NRA), and we're still learning about more connections she shared between the NRA and Russia.

In this case, it appears she was trying to connect the NRA directly to Vladimir Putin himself.

ABC News obtained documents showing that Butina was pitching a reality TV show featuring Putin.

Dozens of pages of email correspondence between August 2015 and November 2016, obtained exclusively by ABC News, reveal Butina’s hand in a pair of potentially explosive projects: appearing to arrange a meeting for a delegation of high-ranking members of the National Rifle Association with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and working with the Outdoor Channel to develop a television show highlighting Putin’s “love of the outdoors” that would feature the Russian President himself.

In one exchange, a pair of NRA insiders discuss their upcoming trip to Russia and appear to copy and paste a previous note from the trip’s organizer Butina — describing the note as “In Maria’s own words” — that makes explicit reference to Lavrov, one of Putin’s closest advisers.

In exchange for her pitch, the Outdoor Channel paid Butina at least $20,000 according to the network.

In response to questions from ABC News, the Outdoor Channel provided a statement saying that following their president and CEO Jim Liberatore’s trip to Moscow, Butina was “retained later based on personal representations she made that she could be helpful as an in-country consultant” and received $20,000 over four months.

While a reality TV show featuring Putin never materialized, the NRA did meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a meeting set up by Butina.

I suspect that was the whole idea. A pitch for a realty TV show featuring the Russian president is obviously a ridiculous idea, but it was a convenient excuse to set up a meeting.

It's an open question if NRA leadership even understood that they were being groomed to help Trump win on a pro-Russian platform in 2016, or if they understood that perfectly and willingly sold their souls to the devil.

There are millions of Americans who have a higher opinion of Putin than Democrats because their rhetorical and political leaders told them Putin is better. And in exchange for that, their leaders were flooded with cash or handed emails stolen from Democratic computers.

In related news, a federal judge has just denied Butina's request to be released from jail.

  • muselet

    I honestly don’t blame the Outdoor Channel for paying Mariia Butina $20,000 for being a fixer. A show centered around the super-ultra-macho Vladimir Putin—Vova, Manly Authoritarian Man Of Action, as I have styled him in the past—would be one hell of a get for a penny-ante cable channel.

    As for the NRA, I have a hard time believing they had any doubt they were being used to advance a pro-Trump/pro-Russia agenda.

    –alopecia

    • Draxiar

      This is a deep, deep chasm that we have not yet hit the bottom of.

      • Scopedog

        Yep. We’re still falling.

  • Badgerite

    This is dangerous, subversive stuff and the gop and particularly their “genuine conservative” Kavanaugh would like to sweep this right under the rug as fast as they can and pretend trumpov and the trumpov family are just as normal as American apple pie. They are not.