The NRA, Religious Right, the Forgetful Jeff Sessions & More Attempts to Collude
Yes, I wrote about this story in the last post but there is so much in this NY Times report.
During campaign conservative operative offered to setup a Trump-Putin meeting https://t.co/DNrvwLLH3K
— mike sax (@mikesaxny2) December 4, 2017
To be sure the big picture is this is yet another attempt by a Trump or conservative operative to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump.
Actual things Trump associates put in writing:
1) "Russia… has just thrown USA election to him"
2) “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this"
3) "Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right."
4) “If [Deripaska] needs private briefings we can accommodate."
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) December 3, 2017
But what also stands out is who was in on this particular attempt to set up a back channel to Russia for Trump.
“A conservative operative trumpeting his close ties to the National Rifle Association and Russia told a Trump campaign adviser last year that he could arrange a back-channel meeting between Donald J. Trump and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, according to an email sent to the Trump campaign.”
“A May 2016 email to the campaign adviser, Rick Dearborn, bore the subject line “Kremlin Connection.” In it, the N.R.A. member said he wanted the advice of Mr. Dearborn and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, then a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump and Mr. Dearborn’s longtime boss, about how to proceed in connecting the two leaders.”
“Russia, he wrote, was “quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.” and would attempt to use the N.R.A.’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., to make “ ‘first contact.’ ” The email, which was among a trove of campaign-related documents turned over to investigators on Capitol Hill, was described in detail to The New York Times.”
But there was more than one such effort on the part of conservative groups.
“The emailed outreach from the conservative operative to Mr. Dearborn came far earlier, around the same time that Russians were trying to make other connections to the Trump campaign. Another contact came through an American advocate for Christian and veterans causes, and together, the outreach shows how, as Mr. Trump closed in on the nomination, Russians were using three foundational pillars of the Republican Party — guns, veterans and Christian conservatives — to try to make contact with his unorthodox campaign.”
“Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” the N.R.A. member and conservative activist, Paul Erickson, wrote. “He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election. Let’s talk through what has transpired and Senator Sessions’s advice on how to proceed.”
Putin is deadly serious. As usual each new revelations raises more questions than its possible to enumerate in one sitting. But for starters:
1. Oops Jeff Sessions ‘forgot’ about communications with the Russians again. After the Papadopoulos indictment came out he pretended to have somehow forgot the March 31, 2016 meeting with Trump’s foreign policy team specifically about a back channel with Russia.
But in truth you suspect that all Sessions had ruled out there was all Paul Manafort had ruled out-Trump himself shouldn’t go but rather send a cutout. Ultimately Carter Page himself would go in July and based on the Steele Dossier may actually have made a deal with the Russians.
Sessions has even more xplaining to do. When does he come back to perjure himself before Congress again?
2. How exactly did Erickson know what’s on Putin’s mind? What are the NRA’s ties to Russia?
“Mr. Erickson, a longtime conservative operative who has been involved in several presidential campaigns, presented himself in the email as a well-connected intermediary to the upper reaches of the Russian government. By “happenstance” and the reach of the N.R.A., Mr. Erickson wrote, he had been put in position to “slowly begin cultivating a back-channel to President Putin’s Kremlin” in recent years.”
“Russia is quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S. that isn’t forthcoming under the current administration,” he wrote.
“Indeed, evidence does appear to show deep ties between Mr. Erickson, the N.R.A. and the Russian gun rights community that were formed in the years when many American conservatives, put off by the Obama administration’s policies, were increasingly looking to Mr. Putin as an example of a strong leader opposing immigration, terrorism and gay rights.”
The N.R.A. was one of Mr. Trump’s biggest backers during the campaign, spending tens of millions of dollars to help elect him.
“Mr. Erickson has known Maria Butina, a former assistant to Mr. Torshin and the founder of the Right to Bear Arms, a Russian gun-rights group, for several years. Ms. Butina, who helped Mr. Torshin make the request through Mr. Clay, hosted Mr. Erickson at a September 2014 meeting of the group at its Moscow office. And in February 2016, the two incorporated a company, Bridges LLC, together in South Dakota. What the company does is unclear.”
Note that this Russian enthuiasm for lots of guns is for America not their own country.
As Steve Hall said, there is no way Putin wants an armed citizenry, he won’t allow full gun rights but is orchestrating this ruse to court American conservatives to manipulate them. @mabrams https://t.co/7x8Devrvj7
— Nada Bakos (@nadabakos) December 3, 2017
Gun control for me and no gun control for ye.
“In December 2015, Mr. Erickson returned to Russia as part of an N.R.A. delegation that included David Keene, the group’s onetime president, top donors and David A. Clarke Jr., the former sheriff of Milwaukee County who became a popular Trump campaign surrogate. At one stop, the group met with Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister in charge of defense. A photograph from the meeting shows Mr. Torshin was also present.”
“In the United States, the hospitality was returned. Mr. Torshin and Ms. Butina attended the N.R.A.’s annual convention in 2014 and 2015. Ms. Butina told the conservative news site Townhall that she attended the N.R.A. Women’s Leadership Luncheon as a guest of Sandra S. Froman, a former president of the group. And in 2015, she was given a tour of the N.R.A.’s Virginia headquarters.”
It’s not just the Trump campaign it’s the American Right and GOP. This is not just about the treason of the Trump campaign but of an entire political party.
P.S. I’m Mike Sax, I’m running for Congress in the NY 2nd District and I’m a Hillary Clinton Democrat.
Meeting her recently was one of the biggest honors in my life to stand next to such a fine public servant and trailblazer. She seemed to like our Impeachment Train campaign t shirts too!
Think of the shirt as a one time investment in restoring legitimacy to this country.
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