There is no right to bear arms in Russia, and under this regime there never will be. According to court papers, Butina nevertheless convinced some naive members of the National Rifle Associationthat she was a genuine activist. In doing so, she gained access to their world.
.. They were both seeking to assist political movements they believed to be pro-Kremlin (the Communist Party of the 1930s; the pro-gun wing of the Republican Party of the 2010s). They were both backed by Kremlin money, diverted through cutouts (the Communist International, in the former instance; a couple of Russian oligarchs, allegedly, in the latter).
.. Butina, even if considering only her role as an open, pro-Kremlin activist, also has many counterparts, agents of influence who are openly agitating for Russian interests, now on the far-right edge of Western politics instead of the far-left.
- Gianluca Savoini, the leader of the enigmatic Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association, seems to perform a similar role in Italian politics, even showing up recently as a member of an official Italian government delegation to Moscow.
- Bela Kovacs , a Hungarian member of the European Parliament, is on trial in Budapest on a charge of spying on European Union institutions on behalf of Russia.
.. they too are part of a long-term project, though it’s not a proletarian revolution. Instead, it’s a kleptocratic coup d’état: The modern Kremlin project seeks to undermine Western democracies, break up the E.U. and NATO, and put corrupt relationships rather than the rule of law at the center of international commerce.
.. it’s worth remembering why Golos and his network failed. In large part,
- it was because the center-left — especially the anti-Soviet wing of the American trade union movement — rejected Soviet-style communism in the United States. It’s also because,
- in the 1940s and 1950s, the American political establishment, Democratic and Republican, unified around the need to defeat Soviet-style communism in Europe. And it’s because,
- even in the depths of the Depression, the majority of Americans were never beguiled by the appeal of authoritarianism.
.. A wing of the Republican Party is preparing to double down and support the Russian autocracy, which it believes, mistakenly, is “Christian.”
.. To push back against them, as well as their equivalents from the rest of the autocratic world, we will need not only to catch the odd agent but also to
- make our political funding systems more transparent, to
- write new laws banning shell companies and money laundering, and to
- end the manipulation of social media.
It took more than a generation for Americans to reject the temptations of communist authoritarianism; it will take more than a generation before we have defeated kleptocratic authoritarianism too — if we still can.
Our democratic republic is in far more danger than it was even a few weeks ago.
Until this point, there was an underlying faith in much of the political world that if Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian collusion in the election turned up unmistakably damning material about Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress would feel obligated by their commitment to the country’s well-being to accept Mueller’s findings and challenge the president.
.. we learned last week that Republicans are deepening their complicity in derailing Mueller’s investigation and burying the facts. The more Mueller imperils Trump, the more McCarthyite the GOP becomes.
.. The apotheosis of Republican congressional collusion with Trump’s efforts to hang on at all costs came at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. One Republican after another attacked Mueller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as if the latter should be placed on a new compendium of subversive organizations.
.. Gohmert might as well have echoed the favored question of the congressional inquisitors of the early ’40s and ’50s: “Are they now or have they ever been . . . supporters of Hillary Clinton?”
Deserving an Academy Award for the most striking imitation of a member of the old House Un-American Activities Committee was Rep. Louie Gohmert. The hard-right Texas Republican went through a roll call of investigators, name by name, asking Wray if each had shown political bias. Wray defended every one of them he knew and wryly smiled when he was unfamiliar with one of the five names on Gohmert’s hit list.
.. When Republicans are FBI haters who are sidetracking probes into Russian subversion, the world truly is turned upside down.
.. Note also the statement of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) that if every member of Mueller’s team who was “anti-Trump” were kicked off, “I don’t know if there’d be anyone left.” The implication is that even if Mueller’s investigation produced unassailable evidence of wrongdoing by Trump, we should ignore the truth, because Mueller’s team should have been vetted to exclude anyone who had a smidgen of doubt about the president.
.. Trump’s allies want us to say: Too bad the president lied or broke the law, or that Russia tried to tilt our election. This FBI guy sending anti-Trump texts is far more important, so let’s just forget the whole thing.
.. Only recently, it was widely assumed that if Trump fired Mueller, many Republicans would rise up to defend our institutions. Now, many in the party are laying the groundwork for justifying a coverup. This is a recipe for lawlessness.
.. Just last May, Newt Gingrich called him a “superb choice to be special counsel” and praised his “honesty and integrity.” Now, pro-Trump politicians feel free to contradict anything they said in the past and to dismiss what they once saw as legitimate authority if those who hold it threaten their power. This is a recipe for autocracy.
Trump himself told us plainly on Friday night in Pensacola, Fla., that he will do whatever it takes to hold power, and he should be taken seriously. “There are powerful forces in Washington trying to sabotage our movement,” he declared. “These are bad people, these are very, very bad and evil people. . . . But you know what, we’re stopping them. You’re seeing that right now.”
We are far closer to the edge than we want to think.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was taken into custody Monday on charges that he laundered more than $18 million in funds from his work for a pro-Russia party in Ukraine through offshore accounts.
.. Mr. Manafort and his attorney, Kevin Downing, arrived about 8:15 a.m. at the FBI’s Washington field office.