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Newsweek Dusts Off Long-Debunked Conspiracy Theory To Smear Tom Massie

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“Thomas Massie’s Russia Ties Resurface Ahead of Ukraine Aid Vote,” reports Newsweek.

“Ahead of Saturday’s vote in the House,” writes reporter Ewan Palmer, “a number of social media users have criticized Massie for not backing additional aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, while noting his voting record in support of Moscow.”

Oh, a number of social media users, you say? Well then, by all means, let’s investigate.

One social media user, Newsweek informs us, contends that Massie is one of the most “pro-Putin Republicans in the House.”

In contemporary left-wing parlance, “pro-Putin” describes anyone who opposes sending Volodymyr Zelensky a blank check. Now, if your argument is that Massie is functionally “pro-Putin” for voting against Ukrainian aid, so be it. But if you fail to mention that Massie, a libertarian, also opposes — as far as I can tell — every foreign aid bill and any resolution that even deals with foreign nations, you’re just being a dishonest hack.

Now, I’m no Massie fan; I find him unserious a lot of the time. But, unlike, say, the members of “the squad,” he doesn’t only vote against resolutions and aid to our longtime allies, which bolsters Iran and Hamas.

Newsweek says historian Timothy Snyder also tweeted that it was, “Worth recalling that Rep. Massie socialized with Russian spies and defended one in the press.” This too is a contextless slander.

The alleged “spy” in question was Maria Butina, a low-level Russian transfer student who began befriending conservative activists years before Trump ever ran for office. Democrats laughably made her out to be Mata Hari.

Butina, a sidekick of Russian politician Alexander Torshin, was accused of “infiltrating” the NRA (sometimes referred to as “becoming a member”) so she could bribe the organization into helping Donald Trump. Because, of course, the NRA had never once backed Republicans before 2016. You’d think the NRA had absolutely no reason to be concerned about Hillary Clinton, the most vocal anti-Second Amendment presidential candidate in memory.

In any event, reporters from major news outlets were deployed to confirm priors and unfurl this Russki plot to funnel money into the NRA campaign against Hillary. You can read more about their tendentious effort here.

When it was all said and done, NPR finally reported in April 2018 that the “NRA, In New Document, Acknowledges More Than 20 Russian-Linked Contributors.”

That was it. Never was another penny uncovered.

The 23 “Russian-linked” individuals, some of them American citizens living in Russia — a country, again, that was at the time being wooed by Obama — contributed around $2,500 total, mostly in membership dues, over three years’ time. Approximately $525 of that sum came from “two individuals.” No more was ever discovered.

Now, I’m not saying the NRA can’t use $2,500. But one suspects an organization with millions of members would ask for a bit more to become a proxy of a foreign state.

Anyway, Massie did meet Butina. You know who else did? A bunch of people at the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast and Obama administration Treasury Department and State Department officials, and so on.

To get a sense of just how dishonest this smear is, note that Massie’s alleged “defense” of this Russian “spy” comes down to a RealClearPolitics op-ed in 2018. As of this writing, the hyperlink-happy Newsweek has failed to link to the congressman’s column. You know why? Newsweek’s framing makes it seem like Massie wrote an apologia for kompromat. The column itself, written before Butina’s plea deal, features one paragraph quite presciently warning about the paranoia that’s gripped D.C.:

For example, the current hysteria may have motivated the recent arrest and indictment of Maria Butina, a former Russian graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C. Unlike many accused of violent crimes, Butina (who has not been accused of harming anyone) was denied bail, and is now reportedly being held in solitary confinement in federal prison until her trial. The indictment claims she acted as an unregistered agent of the Russian government. Thin on substance, it oddly suggests, for example, that attendance at a National Prayer Breakfast is something nefarious.

My quixotic hope is that Putin’s authoritarian state crumbles into an ash heap and a free country arises, yet I still know every word of what Massie wrote is factual. Butina was supposedly the lynchpin of Putin’s efforts. There wasn’t any evidence that she engaged in any kind of espionage. She was an unregistered foreign agent, at best. She pled out and was deported back to Russia.

Put it this way, there are likely thousands of lawyers in D.C. right now engaging in the same crime at far higher levels. We know that numerous Iranian assets have worked in the Obama and Biden administrations on behalf of Iran. Nothing will ever happen to any of them.

Nevertheless, since 2016, the left has decided to smear anyone who disagrees with them on policy as a fifth columnist. Fine. I just wish they’d cook up some new conspiracy theories.

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