Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave Donald Trump another proverbial middle finger with today’s announcement of the arrest of Russian political operative Maria Butina while Trump was meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mueller wasn’t technically behind the arrest, but that’s a distinction without a difference, as the Feds would not move on someone like Butina without Mueller’s blessing. This arrest was clearly bad news for Trump and for Putin. But the filings reveal that it’s also bad news for certain Republican Party leaders.
Here’s the relevant passage from the DOJ’s filings, as first highlighted by Daily Kos. It’s an affidavit from an FBI agent: “On October 4, 2016, U.S. Person 1 sent an email to an acquaintance. The email covered a number of topics. Within the email, U.S. Person 1 stated, ‘Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns, I’ve been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key POLITICAL PARTY 1 leaders through, of all conduits, the [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION].’ Based on my training, expertise, and familiarity with this investigation, I believe that this email describes U.S. Person 1’s involvement in BUTINA’s efforts to establish a “back channel” communication for representatives of the Government of Russia.”
We all know that “POLITICAL PARTY 1” is the Republican Party, and considering Butina’s documented ties to the NRA, it’s clear the unnamed “GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION.” So according to Butina’s own private correspondence, during the election she was running a secret backchannel between the the Kremlin, the NRA, and certain “key leaders” of the Republican Party. Who are these leaders? We don’t know. But of the nearly 300 Republicans in Congress, there aren’t more than perhaps ten or fifteen who could be described as key leaders.
That handful of individuals must be very nervous right now. We don’t know who they are, but they do. Most or all Republican candidates take NRA money. That’s not a crime on its own. But taking NRA money, while using the NRA to communicate with Russia, and knowing that the NRA money they’re taking originated from the Kremlin? There are multiple felonies in that description. This is about to get very, very ugly for whichever Republicans in Congress were complicit in the Trump-Russia election plot.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report