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The Russian Student Case as an Attack on the NRA?
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The Russian Student Case as an Attack on the NRA?

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 17, 2018

Despite all Deep State illegal attempts to meddle in America’s new foreign policy by announcing baseless charges against Russia, U.S. president Donald Trump held ‘very, very good’ meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Finnish Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

However, just hours after President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and held a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart that stunned many political observers in the U.S., there was another strike.

Federal prosecutors on Monday unsealed a criminal complaint alleging that a Russian graduate student Maria Butina, 29, living in the D.C. area conspired to act as an agent of Russia without registering, as required, under 18 U.S. Code § 951 and 18 U.S. Code § 371 which states:

“Whoever, other than a diplomatic or consular officer or attaché, acts in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General if required in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both. For purposes of this section, the term “agent of a foreign government” means an individual who agrees to operate within the United States subject to the direction or control of a foreign government or official,” 18 U.S. Code § 951 says. Entitled “Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States “, 18 U.S. Code § 371 says that “If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

The case is being pursued by the Justice Department's National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington D.C., not the special counsel investigating Russian election interference.

Maria Butina, 29, was ordered detained by a magistrate judge in Washington, D.C., pending a detention hearing Wednesday. Court papers said she entered the U.S. on a student visa in August 2016, ostensibly for graduate work in international relations at American University. Instead, the FBI says, she secretly worked on behalf of the Russian government.

Robert Driscoll, a lawyer for Butina, denied in a written statement that she had been acting as a Russian agent. Driscoll said she had cooperated with Senate intelligence committee investigators and provided thousands of documents. He said the FBI executed a search warrant on her apartment in April.

"The substance of the charge in the complaint is overblown," Driscoll said.

"While styled as some sort of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agent Registration Act, in actuality, it describes a conspiracy to have a 'friendship dinner' at Bistro Bis with a group of Americans and Russians to discuss foreign relations between the two countries."

He added: "There is simply no indication of Butina seeking to influence or undermine any specific policy or law in the United States."

Taking into account the obvious timing of the announcement, both developments by federal prosecutors appear likely to increase pressure on the president, his administration and Republicans in Congress.

In addition, in their criminal complaint alleging a Russian graduate student, now the FBI is attacking an unnamed "organization promoting gun rights." Needless to say, that organization is the National Rifle Association.

From this standpoint, Butina case can be considered as a new tactics in the line of the Deep State’s long-term efforts to attack both the US president and the NRA, by attempting to link both of them to Russian actors.

Authorities said Butina established contact with an unnamed American political operative in Moscow in 2013 who worked with her to arrange introductions to influential people inside the U.S. and to advance Russian interests.

The American political operative, whom some sources identified as Paul Erickson, sent an email shortly before the 2016 election reporting that he had been involved in "securing a very private line of communication" between the Kremlin and Republicans, using the NRA, the court papers said.

However, none of the Americans, including Erickson, with whom the Russians made contact are charged with any wrongdoing. For example, it's unclear whether there might be additional charges down the line or whether the Department of Justice feels the U.S. citizens involved in the matter might have broken any laws.

The FBI affidavit said Butina reported her activities to a Russian official via email, Twitter and other means. That Russian official is not named in the court filing but this could be one of the 13 Russians sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April 2018, NPR said.

In April, 2018 Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has been querying the NRA about contributions from about 23 Russians, or Americans living in Russia. The NRA responded, “that the sum it received from those people was just over $2,500 and most of that was "routine payments" for membership dues or magazine subscriptions” and named “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Personals” among their members.

Another remarkable detail here is that FBI special agent Kevin Helson used word “infiltration”.

The two "took these steps in order to infiltrate these groups and advance the interests of the Russian Federation," said Helson in affidavit that accompanied the criminal complaint.

The Russian Student Case as an Attack on the NRA?

That word, "infiltration," has been one of the least-understood terms along with others such as “social media agitation, clandestine outreach by intelligence operatives and cyberattacks".

The Russian Student Case as an Attack on the NRA?

"Infiltration" first entered the lexicon of an anti-Trump circle after the House intelligence committee released the now infamous “Trump - Russia dossier”.

The main reason why the Deep State has chosen to attack the NRA is because of the organization’s support for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s opposition will never forget how he thanked the group for supporting him in 2016. “I am going to come through for you,” he told thousands of cheering NRA members at the April 2017 convention.

With recent developments, does it mean that 5 million NRA members should now be called “infiltrators?” Will it be reasonable to assume that the NRA soon will be forced to be registered as an “agent of a foreign government”?

Author: USA Really