Thursday, July 19, 2018

Weird Coincidences? Or Does The R Stand For Russia or Republicans?

Are these very weird coincidences or something else?  You decide.

First, on Monday, the US Treasury department

said it planned to end requirements that certain tax-exempt organizations identify their financial contributors on their tax returns.

The decision means groups such as the National Rifle Association, Planned Parenthood, and the AARP will no longer have to tell the IRS who’s giving them money.
This plan would make it easier for dark money to hide. 

Then,  on Wednesday, a Russian citizen, Maria Butina,  was  indicted for working as the agent of a foreign power in the US without registering as one, and perhaps for even spying.  She used the NRA (National Rifle Association) to infiltrate various conservative groups.  Her Russian handler is reported to be Alexander Torshin, a close ally of Putin who used to be a Russian senator.    And:

...the FBI reportedly is investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money to the Trump campaign through the NRA—which backed Trump with a record $30 million.
There we see a reference to possible dark money, funneled through the NRA.

Another similar pairing caught my eye:

First, we have all been debating if Trump will ever admit that Russia meddled with the 2016 elections, but the rest of us know that Russia did exactly that, and plans to meddle in the 2018 elections, too.*

Then, this happened:

House Republicans plan to vote Thursday on a spending bill that excludes new money for election security grants to states, provoking a furious reaction from Democrats amid a national controversy over Russian election interference.
At issue is a grants program overseen by the federal Election Assistance Commission and aimed at helping states administer their elections and improve voting systems; Democrats want to continue grant funding through 2019, while Republicans say the program already has been fully funded.

The Republicans in the House are acting in a way which might lend itself to several explanations.  But the most obvious one is that they don't want to have the elections monitored too closely, because that would stop some plan which benefits them.

And, perhaps also coincidentally, all this is exactly what Vladimir Putin desires.  His foreign policy aims at causing distrust in democracy inside the so-called Western liberal countries and at creating mistrust in the government among their citizenry.


* The Washington Post wrote:

Officially, Russia admits nothing about interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections, but Kremlin-controlled state media is not as reserved in its messages designed for internal consumption. Russian state TV hosts brazenly assert, “Trump is ours,” and joke that the U.S. lawmakers traveled to Russia “to make deals with our hackers, so they can rig the midterms in favor of Trump’s team.” They gleefully anticipate that Putin will run circles around “political neophyte” Trump, “educating” him about world events from the Russian perspective.
I don't know if that lawmakers' visit was the one a group of Republicans made over the US Independence Day, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.  The optics, as people say these days, are terrible about making a trip like that on the fourth of July.  But nevertheless, eight Republican Congress critters did exactly that.