What Is It About Republicans and Russian Spies?

by | Feb 22, 2024 | The Truscott Commentaries

Maria Valeryevna Butina aka Maria Butina, is a Russian citizen who plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent. Caricature by DonkeyHotey, Wiki Commons

What Is It About Republicans and Russian Spies?

by | Feb 22, 2024 | The Truscott Commentaries

Maria Valeryevna Butina aka Maria Butina, is a Russian citizen who plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent. Caricature by DonkeyHotey, Wiki Commons

What Donald Trump has always called the “Russia hoax” was never a hoax at all. It was real, and it is continuing, and it now reaches into the United States Congress.

Republished with permission from Lucian K. Truscott IV

Guess what: A Russian spy has been spreading lies about the Democratic candidate for president through his connections with senior Republican officials. Oh, my goodness, can that be true? Where did I put my fainting couch? 

This time the Russian spy is Alexander Smirnov, a serial liar and fabricator who has been making up stories on behalf of Russian intelligence about Democrats, chiefly Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and feeding them to senior Republican Party government officials. Last week, he was charged with just that—lying to the FBI that Joe Biden and his son Hunter each sought $5 million bribes from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma to fix an investigation into the company by Ukraine’s corrupt prosecutor general.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that this tired lie about the Bidens and Burisma and bribes was shopped around way back in 2018 and 2019 in the run-up to the 2020 election. Those were the days when the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Konstantin Kilimnik and Dmytro Firtash were running around trying to get “dirt” on the Bidens, and the infamous “perfect phone call” was made to Volodymyr Zelenskyy when Donald Trump, then the President of the United States, tried to extort the Ukrainian president into opening an investigation into the very thing that Smirnov is charged with lying about these five or six years later.

Oh goodness, I’m barely three paragraphs into this piece about what happened with Russian spies just yesterday and already I’m spinning down a rabbit hole we’ve been going down ever since a certain New York real estate magnate decided he would run for president as a Republican in 2015. 

Here’s a handy-dandy flashback with a few of the players we’ve met along the way:

Remember Marina Butina? She was the Russian FSG bombshell who infiltrated the National Rifle Association on behalf of Russian intelligence and spread money around and had a wild affair with a Republican political operative named Paul Erikson and took a bunch of NRA officials and Republican politicians to Moscow to meet with her phony “gun rights” organization called “Right to Bear Arms” that she established in a country where there is no right to bear arms.

Remember George Papadopoulos? He was the Trump campaign “foreign policy adviser” who was running around London in 2016 meeting with a Russian intelligence agent named Joseph Mifsud, who was setting him up with meetings with another Russian intelligence agent, Leonid Reshetnikov, who ran some kind of Russian intelligence front called the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies. Mifsud, who disappeared and has never been seen or heard from again, was the guy that Papadopoulos met in Rome, or somewhere, who out of the blue told him that Russian intelligence had “dirt” on Hilary Clinton, including “thousands of emails” that belonged to her.

The name Konstantin Kilimnik ring a bell? I know it gets confusing, because I already mentioned him about the whole Burisma thing, but Konstantin was the Russian intelligence guy who had worked with Paul Manafort in Ukraine when Manafort was running campaigns for Ukraine’s pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych, who after being deposed by the 2014 Ukrainian revolution fled back to—you guessed it—Russia.

Anyway, Konstantin was the guy connected to a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, to whom Manafort owed something like $14 million. The minute Manafort was appointed manager of Trump’s campaign, he emailed his pal Konstantin asking him how they could use the Trump campaign to “get whole” with Deripaska. So, Manafort ends up meeting with Konstantin in New York City while he was running Trump’s campaign and shared campaign information and polling data with him. Why Manafort was giving this highly secret political information to a Russian intelligence agent, well, that was never explained, but it does kind of bring up what “get whole” could have meant.

Manafort went on to be indicted for various financial crimes, for which Trump pardoned him. Konstantin was indicted for obstruction of justice, and hell, even little honey-pot Marina Butina was indicted and spent a year behind bars in the U.S. before she was deported back to Russia and greeted as a returning hero by Russian intelligence.

That’s just a smattering of Russian intelligence agents with connections to prominent Republicans over the last eight to ten years, and what do you know? Here comes Alexander Smirnov peddling tired old lies about the Bidens and Burisma, and this time who’s listening to him? Oh, nobody but the two House Republican goofs in charge of the so-called impeachment investigation of President Biden, James Comer and Jim Jordan. And what are they investigating Biden for? Oh, let’s see…taking bribes from Burisma!

Now, having read all that history about the other Russian spies Republicans were listening to, involved with, giving information to, getting information from, and committing financial crimes with, what kind of a guy is Smirnov? Let’s just let the DOJ motion tell us in their explanation to the court in Nevada about why Smirnov needs to be in pretrial detention:

“First, he claims to have contacts with multiple foreign intelligence agencies and had plans to leave the United States two days after he was arrested last week for a months-long, multi-country foreign trip. During this trip, the defendant claimed to be meeting with foreign intelligence contacts. Those foreign intelligence agencies could resettle Smirnov outside the United States if he were released.”

Oh, by the way, Smirnov was arrested as he got off the flight from his multi-country trip “meeting with foreign intelligence contacts.” 

But it gets better. Smirnov has lived in Las Vegas but has no business there. “Instead, he claims to have a ‘security business,’ that is registered in California,” according to the DOJ memo. He lives with a girlfriend “who does not appear to even know what he does.” What does he do for money? His bank records do not “reflect that he is in the ‘security business,’ as he claims.” Instead, his bank records “show large wire transfers from what appear to be venture capital firms and individuals.”

That gives him enough money to escape the country any time he wants to, according to the DOJ. How much money, you may ask? Oh, not too much. Smirnov “has access to more than $2.9 million, and his wife/girlfriend (he refers to her both ways) (hereafter “DL”) has access to more than $3.8 million.” According to the DOJ, those “funds are available to him because most of the money in DL’s account originated with Smirnov and she pays his personal expenses out of her account.”

Because most guys running around making international trips to multiple countries who have no visible means of support besides large money transfers from “venture capital firms and individuals” have millions of dollars in bank accounts in their names and in the names of their wife/girlfriends.

Are you able to follow this insane narrative? This is the guy the House Republicans have been relying on as their chief source of information about supposed $5 million bribes to both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. This is the crap they want to impeach Biden for? Smirnov, the star of his own private season of “Get Smart,” has been telling Comer and his buddies that Hunter Biden was taped making phone calls about the bribes in a hotel in Kyiv that was “wired” by Russian intelligence and “under control of the Russians.”

Only one problem: Hunter Biden not only has never been in that hotel, he has never been in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Prosecutors told the judge in Nevada that Russian intelligence is still using the Kyiv hotel to record “prominent Americans” in order to provide “kompromat” in the 2024 election. “Thus, Smirnov’s efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of the two major parties in the United States continues,” the DOJ memo concludes.

Ummmmm…isn’t this the kind of stuff that was happening back in 2016 in London and Rome and even Moscow when “operatives” for Trump’s campaign were meeting with Russian intelligence agents who were peddling “dirt” on Hillary Clinton? And Marina Butina was gamboling around with NRA officers and escorting them to Moscow and shacking up with Republican campaign operatives while she was employed as “special assistant” to Aleksandr Torshin, who was Acting Chairman of the Senate of the Russian Federation and a close pal of Putin.

With all the Russians and all the intelligence agents and all the meetings with Republican officials of one kind or another and all the secrets and lies passed between them all the way up to and including the campaign chairman of the Republican nominee for president, here is a simple way to understand it. 

It’s the same playbook Trump has used his entire life. Get caught doing something, anything, and immediately accuse your opponents of the same thing or worse. Charge after charge of sexual harassment and assault? Hmmm, let’s see…how about a Pizza joint where pedophile Democrats are trafficking children out of the basement? In business up to your neck with Russians and taking money from foreign governments? Find some goofball with two or three foreign passports and bank accounts full of funny money traveling around the world meeting with Russian intelligence officials and get him to accuse the Bidens of taking bribes.

What Donald Trump has always called the “Russia hoax” was never a hoax at all. It was real, and it is continuing, and it now reaches into the United States Congress and is driving the movement there to impeach President Biden for things he never did, but ironically, for stuff Republicans have been doing for at least a decade.

So where is the big Biden impeachment investigation right now, after the fourth or fifth witness they’ve advertised as “the one” falls apart in a spectacular hail of indictments and DOJ memos alleging all kinds of Russian hanky-panky? Well, Comer and Jordan have their committee staffers purging the name “Smirnov” from anything with their fingerprints on it. Seems like they’ve got their work cut out for them.

Lucian K. Truscott IV

Lucian K. Truscott IV

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better.

You can read Lucian Truscott's daily articles at luciantruscott.substack.com. We encourage our readers to get a subscription.

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