MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is floored that the National Rifle Association has managed to stay silent given their link to alleged Russian "spy" Maria Butina.
On her Wednesday show, the host walked through the concerns held by government lawyers about handing over documents in her case. Normally the prosecution would give everything they have to the defense team so they can mount an actual defense. In this case, the government has a concern that if they turn that data over, it will get used by Butina's lawyers in the media.
During her Wednesday show, Maddow read through the back and forth between lawyers and the judge in the case that exposed just how much information is available about the Russia investigation
Prosecutor Thomas Saunders told the judge "the government has substantial discovery they're ready to turn over right away. Right now we already have about 4 to 6 terabytes of data the equivalent of over 1.5 million files that we're ready to turn over just as fast as it can be loaded onto a portable hard drive."
That was just the first batch. There's a second one of equal size, he said. The lawyers fought out the idea of handing over the documents to the defense team because they were concerned that Butina's lawyers would end up on cable news disclosing evidence used in other investigations. Those "other" investigations, Maddow surmised, are probably special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigations.
"This is the judge whittling the defense lawyer down to a toothpick here," she said reading the back and forth.
Meanwhile, the case involving Butina continues to uncover the degree to which the NRA played a key role. Maddow found it "remarkable" that the NRA has spent several weeks without saying a word about accusations that they helped as a co-conspirator to espionage.
"No comment on this indictment since it was first unsealed. This is federal prosecutors including veteran espionage prosecutors saying there is evidence in court used by the Russian government in an illegal intelligence operation. Really? No comment by that NRA, for more than a week now?" asked Maddow.
She cited a Jan. 2018 report from McClatchy alleging that Russian money was used to help President Donald Trump's election efforts. That report garnered significant pushback, but Maddow noted that McClatchy stood by their story. Now it seems that Butina may have helped be the conduit between the NRA and Russian donors.
Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that Butina also had a 2016 job at the Outdoor Channel, where she was paid $5,000 monthly to consult on a planned program about hunting in Russia. The network confirmed to Maddow late today that it was true, she was on their payroll.
Maddow explained that she ended up scoring those big bucks as a result of a 2015 Moscow trip she planned for key NRA members and The Outdoor Channel's chief executive, Jim Libera. The MSNBC host noted that the exact same time that Butina was bringing the gun enthusiasts to Russia was also when retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was attending a banquet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russian TV.
"Same time period, right before the Republican presidential primary started," Maddow said. "What was the NRA all doing in Moscow right before then? What was Mike Flynn doing in Moscow before then?"
Watch her opener below: