I really hate to use the phrase ‘fake news,’ but the recent attempts by Gun-control Nation to rev up the noise level, first Butina, then plastic guns, seems to me increasingly to embrace a narrative which is simply not true. First, we had a big ta-ra-rum about the alleged backdoor funneling of Russian money to the Trump campaign via the NRA; now we have the bigger ta-ra-rum about how plastic guns are a national security threat.
Today we’re back to Butina again in the form of a Buzzfeed story making its rounds through Gun-control Nation, a story which alleges that Butina and her boyfriend, a sleazy so-called political consultant named Paul Erickson, were laundering all kinds of dough as part of a “Russian campaign to influence American politics.” Federal investigators have now leaked the fact that they are looking at the transfer of more than $100,000 from Butina’s Russian bank account to American accounts, much of the money then pulled out from ATM’s and spent God knows where or how.
What does all of this have to do with Russia and the NRA? Practically speaking, next to nothing. First of all, the amount of money handled by Butina, no matter where it went, is chump change to the point that if the Russians thought they would get an inside edge with Trump by using the NRA as a cash conduit to his campaign, they never bothered to ask themselves how much political campaigns actually cost.
And by the way, the $30 million which the boys in Fairfax gave Trump may have represented about 9% of all the money he raised but taking that much dough out of the NRA piggy bank didn’t even dent the balance sheet of America’s first civil-rights organization at all. Know how much money the NRA was sitting on at the end of 2016? Try over $200 million bucks, and that was after giving The Donald his $30 million rake-off, okay?
In other words, the NRA needs to fool around with illegal Russian money like it needs a hole in its head. And despite what Mother Jones thinks, the fact that Butina helped pay for a bunch of NRA supporters and stooges to go to a fashion show in Moscow, from the point of ‘influencing’ the election, doesn’t count for zip. The NRA goes out of its way to encourage foreign gun owners and foreign gun makers to get involved with the domestic firearms market. After all, the NRA’s job is to build support for private gun ownership, remember?
The most interesting aspect of the latest Butina noise from Gun-control Nation is that, if anything, the Buzzfeed story contradicts the idea of Butina and Erickson acting as conduits for Russian influence over the election because almost all of the suspicious cash transfers being tracked by investigators took place after November 2016. Here’s a Buzzfeed quote: “In summer 2017, the two made about $93,000 in wires, checks, transfers, and cash transactions that were deemed suspicious, including more deposits to Butina’s Russian account.” What do these transfers have to do with the election? Not one thing, as in nothing.
The story goes on to say that Butina’s handling of cash, including paying a D.C. limo service, is not only being examined by banking investigators, but is also being look at by ‘counterintelligence officials’ who want to figure out how the funds were used. This little twit, Maria Butina, is the subject of a counterintelligence operation? If that’s really true, then I have to agree with Trump when he said that the intelligence agencies’ claim about Russian interference were running the flag up the wrong pole.
I’m not saying that the Russians didn’t try to tilt the election towards Trump – the evidence is overwhelming that something was going on. But if Gun-control Nation wants to really do something constructive about gun violence, get real and start talking about something which matters and stop spending time on Maria Butina and plastic guns.