Emails obtained exclusively by ABC News suggest that accused Russian agent Maria Butina arranged a meeting between the National Rifle Association and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and shopping access to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Butina is in jail currently. She was arrested in July, accused of acting as a Russian agent and conspiracy to take actions on behalf of Russia while covertly infiltrating political groups.
“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,” ABC reported Monday.
“The emails obtained by ABC News detail Butina’s efforts to organize the summit that brought high-ranking NRA members and powerful Russian nationals together in Moscow in December 2015, a trip seemingly sponsored by Butina’s gun-rights group ‘Right to Bear Arms.'”
“The delegation included NRA board member Pete Brownell, Trump campaign surrogate Sheriff David Clarke, major NRA benefactor Dr. Arnold Goldschlager and his daughter Hilary, NRA fundraiser Joe Gregory, former NRA president David Keene and Outdoor Channel CEO Jim Liberatore. They reportedly met with Butina, her alleged handler Alexander Torshin, the Deputy Governor of the Russian Central Bank who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2018, and Dmitry Rogozin, then-Russian Deputy Prime Minister who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2014.”
Writing in June of 2016 to the Outdoor Channel attempting to develop a show highlighting Putin‘s alleged love of the outdoors, Butina wrote, “This matters to your project because THEY have already lobbied President Putin to do this show as an example of the kind of relationship Russia could have with America … and with President Trump.”
ABC noted that while Butina appears to have succeeded in “raising the prospect of a discussion between conservative political operatives and a powerful member of Putin’s inner circle in the midst of a presidential campaign,” she did not succeed in efforts to develop the TV show about Putin‘s alleged love of the outdoors, which raises questions about her access to the Kremlin.
Butina seeks release from jail today. She has pleaded not guilty.
Representatives Elijah Cummings and Stephen Lynch questioned the security clearance of John Bolton, Trump‘s national security adviser, asking White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to turn over vetting documents related to Bolton, focusing on if he participated by video in a 2013 gun rights discussion organized by Butina.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.