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Retired CIA expert: US far-right is getting duped by Russia and it’s ‘part of something bigger’

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In recent years, finding themselves increasingly ideologically alienated in the U.S., certain members of the far right have found sympathetic “kindred spirits” among Russia’s well-connected elite.

According to a bombshell report published Sunday night by the Washington Post, some current and former members of the U.S. intelligence community believe that forces within the Russian government are actively cultivating these relationships with disaffected members of the conservative fringe, although it’s unclear why.

The Post report begins with Brian Brown, president of anti-LGBTQ hate group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Brown grew up thinking that Russians were the enemy, but now that his own country has largely embraced the sanctity of same-sex marriages, Brown feels more at home among his anti-LGBTQ Russian counterparts.

“What I realized was that there was a great change happening in the former Soviet Union,” Brown said of a 2013 visit to Russia, where gay men and lesbians are routinely attacked in the street, beaten, raped and — in the Republic of Chechnya — rounded up into internment camps, tortured and executed. “There was a real push to re-instill Christian values in the public square.”

The Post said, “From gun rights to terrorism to same-sex marriage, many leading advocates on the right who grew frustrated with their country’s leftward tilt under President Barack Obama have forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally.”

However, intelligence officials familiar with Russian intelligence techniques and the special fondness that Russia has of using unwitting agents — also known as “useful idiots” — to carry out its goals are skeptical that these powerful Russians are cultivating U.S. friendships out of the goodness of their hearts.

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“Is it possible that these are just well meaning people who are reaching out to Americans with shared interests? It is possible,” retired CIA Russia expert Steven L. Hall told the Post. “Is it likely? I don’t think it’s likely at all. . . . My assessment is that it’s definitely part of something bigger.”

Vladimir Putin and his allies have held meetings and summits with disgraced former National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, Christian evangelist Franklin Graham, top officials from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and anti-LGBTQ leaders like Brown.

The Post discussed Republican Nashville attorney G. Kline Preston IV’s relationship with billionaire Russian senator Alexander Torshin — who Bloomberg News accused of being deeply involved in Russian organized crime and money-laundering. Preston introduced Torshin to NRA president David Keene.

Torshin is a personal friend of Mikhail Kalashnikov — the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle — and a passionate supporter of gun rights. He has also helped finance a push in Russia to align the government and the Russian Orthodox church.

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Attorney Preston sees Russian authoritarians and southern Republicans as natural allies.

“The value system of Southern Christians and the value system of Russians are very much in line,” Preston told the Post. “The so-called conflict between our two nations is a tragedy because we’re very similar people, in a lot of our values, our interests and that sort of thing.”

Torshin worked hand-in-hand with “a photogenic activist originally from Siberia named Maria Butina,” the Post said, to build a Russian gun-rights movement. Butina has formed relationships with a number of U.S. conservative leaders and is now a graduate student in Washington, D.C.. She insists that her alliances with right-wing Americans have been purely of her own volition and never at the prodding of Russian officials.

“No government official has EVER approached me about ‘fostering ties’ with any Americans,” she told the Post in an email.

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Hall was skeptical, though, telling the Post that it’s highly unlikely Putin would look favorably on a real gun-rights group in his country. He suspects that Torshin’s group is in truth “controlled by the security services” in Russia and serving as a honeypot of sorts for gullible American conservatives.

For a detailed accounting of Torshin and Butina’s machinations in U.S. politics and an account of how Franklin Graham — grandson of pioneering televangelist Billy Graham — was wooed by Pres. Vladimir Putin himself, read the full Post report here.

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‘Quit trying to make Jared happen’: Ivanka ripped for praising her husband’s DOA peace plan for the Middle East

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First daughter and senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump was mercilessly ridiculed on Tuesday after praising the so-called "peace plan" for the Middle East created by her husband, Jared Kushner.

The couple, known as Javanka, have been highly criticized for having had no government experience prior to joining the administration and needing presidential intervention after being unable to obtain security clearances.

Ivanka tweeted a quote from her husband at the "Peace to Prosperity workshop today in Bahrain" and urged her Twitter followers to watch his full speech.

Kushner's plan was rejected by the Palestinians before even being released.

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The Navy accidentally nominated a convicted child sex predator to be a future department head

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On Tuesday, the Navy Times reported that Lt. j.g. Michael D. McNeil was nominated, along with several other junior service officers, as eligible to be a future department head by the Navy Personnel Command.

This would be somewhat surprising, given that McNeil is currently serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison in Texarkana, Texas, for soliciting sex from a 12-year-old deaf girl.

The reason why McNeil was listed as under consideration is that the Navy had not yet updated his records with the "civil action report" noting his conviction, which was handed down in March. Navy records still listed him as active duty and assigned to the guided-missile destroyer Lassen when the list was drafted.

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Texas Republican denies trying to cleanse internet of references to the time she allegedly kidnapped a puppy

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The legal counsel for the Bexar County Republican Party in Texas is denying attempting to force Google to hide articles from her past.

"Google has received six requests to remove links to newspaper columns about Lynette Boggs-Perez, a recently elected Judson ISD trustee whose political career in Nevada was dogged by scandal before she moved to Texas," the San Antonio Express News reported, via Reason.

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