NBC’s New Anti-NRA Attack Line: They’re Infiltrated By the Russians!

It was only a matter of time before the liberal media’s derangement got so out of control that they would start accusing the entire conservative movement of working for Russian interests, and it finally happened. During Sunday’s Meet the Press, NBC moderator Chuck Todd used the recent indictment of Russian national, Marina Butina to suggest that not only was the National Rifle Association infiltrated by Russians but “all levels of the conservative movement” were as well.

Earlier this month, Maria Butina was arrest by the FBI on suspicion of being a Russian agent trying to lobby politicians to ease sanctions at the direction of Russian oligarch Alexander Torshin. Her most apparent plot involved her get close to members of the NRA in an effort to set up a back channel between Russia and the White House.

Despite no evidence of her efforts bearing any fruit, Todd couldn’t help by suggesting something untoward was set into motion. “Maria Butina loves guns, cultivated conservatives and is now in jail, arrested as a Russian agent. Does she hold the key to an NRA/Russia connection?” he speculated during the program’s opening tease.

“It sounds like something ripped from a spy movie or a reboot of The Americans. A young Russian woman accused of conspiring to influence American conservative politics on behalf of Russian intelligence,” Todd declared to ratchet up the drama. “[I]nvestigators say, she worked to gain access to American political operatives, conservative politicians and political groups, including the Trump campaign and, more importantly in this story, the NRA.”

Yahoo! News chief investigative correspondent and former NBC News reporter, Michael Isikoff expanded on her influence, telling Todd that she “kept showing up at conservative political events, CPAC conferences, national prayer breakfasts, NRA meetings, conventions.”

 

 

Reading from an e-mail included in the criminal complaint against her, Todd stoked fear of her influence on Republicans:

It says here that she has discovered the “central place and influence,” and they refer to in the criminal complaint “political party one” meaning the Republicans, “plays the gun rights organization” here as NRA. The NRA is “the largest sponsor of the elections in Congress as well as sponsor of the CPAC conference and other events.” Again, a little bit of broken English from her but this was all part of this plan.

This was a whole infiltration plan,” Todd exclaimed after reading.

Isikoff touted Butina’s insight for targeting the NRA since they had control over the Republican Party. “Who has more influence with Republican members of Congress especially than the NRA,” he rhetorically asked Todd. “They spend more money, they're the most powerful special interest group. So the idea was, Butina sets up this Russian gun rights organization to forge this alliance with NRA members as a way of influencing the Republican Party.

What started off as just a blatant anti-NRA smear, morphed into a general lambasting of the conservative movement as a whole at the hands of Todd. “We'll focus sometimes on the Russia/Trump angle, we focus on the NRA,” he prefaced while asking Isikoff for a 30,000-foot view of the situation. “It looks to me like a Russian infiltration campaign on all levels of the conservative movement in this country. Is that what happened?

That's exactly what seems to be happening. This was very much as part of the Russian influence campaign as the cyber-attacks, as the phony Facebook ads, the Twitter bots, all of that,” Isikoff proclaimed.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

 

 

NBC
Meet the Press
July 29, 2018
10:31:10 AM Eastern [Opening tease]

CHUCK TODD: Plus, guns and poses. Maria Butina loves guns, cultivated conservatives and is now in jail, arrested as a Russian agent. Does she hold the key to an NRA/Russia connection?

11:05:36 AM Eastern [6 minutes 9 seconds]

CHUCK TODD: Welcome back. It sounds like something ripped from a spy movie or a reboot of The Americans. A young Russian woman accused of conspiring to influence American conservative politics on behalf of Russian intelligence. 29-year-old Maria Butina was arrested last weekend in Washington where she had recently graduate wed a master's degree in international relations from American University. On paper, she was a student and a gun rights advocate known around campus for having pride in her homeland and defending Russian interests in class discussions. At the same time, investigators claim she was a covert agent funded by Alexander Torshin, a Russian oligarch, with close ties to the Kremlin. And at his urging, investigators say, she worked to gain access to American political operatives, conservative politicians and political groups, including the Trump campaign and, more importantly in this story, the NRA. Well, joining me now is someone who has done a lot of reporting on Butina and Russian intelligence efforts in this area, it’s Michael Isikoff. He’s the chief investigative correspondent of Yahoo! News.

(…)

TODD: So how did you first discover her?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: I started hearing about her during the 2016 election as somebody who kept showing up at conservative political events, CPAC conferences, national prayer breakfasts, NRA meetings, conventions. She met with NRA leaders when they went to Moscow and hosted them. And it struck a lot of people as odd. What is this woman doing here? She was extremely flirtatious. She tried to maintain contact with a lot of influential Republican lobbyists, activists. She had this very close relationship with this guy, Paul Erickson, conservative activist in South Dakota. But what really got my attention was the Alexander Torshin connection.

(…)

TODD: I want to read this e-mail. It's a bit -- some rough English but it's in her words. It's an e-mail they put in there that essentially explains I guess what her plan was. It says here that she has discovered the “central place and influence,” and they refer to in the criminal complaint “political party one” meaning the Republicans, “plays the gun rights organization” here as NRA. The NRA is “the largest sponsor of the elections in Congress as well as sponsor of the CPAC conference and other events.” Again, a little bit of broken English from her but this was all part of this plan. It was an e-mail she sent to Paul Erickson. This was a whole infiltration plan.

ISIKOFF: Exactly. And that was very savvy insight. The way -- the goal here was to change the Republican Party’s attitude towards Russia. Traditionally hostile –

TODD: There was sort of the John McCain view of Russia is what they assumed all Republicans were.

ISIKOFF: And the way to do it was through the NRA. Who has more influence with Republican members of Congress especially than the NRA? They spend more money, they're the most powerful special interest group. So the idea was, Butina sets up this Russian gun rights organization to forge this alliance with NRA members as a way of influencing the Republican Party.

(…)

TODD: Mike, you've been doing investigations a long time, a couple of decades now. Let's raise up to 30,000 feet. We keep-- We'll focus sometimes on the Russia/Trump angle, we focus on the NRA. This larger investigation is going to be known as what? It looks to me like a Russian infiltration campaign on all levels of the conservative movement in this country. Is that what happened?

ISIKOFF: That's exactly what seems to be happening. This was very much as part of the Russian influence campaign as the cyber-attacks, as the phony Facebook ads, the Twitter bots, all of that.

(…)

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