The Russian NRA Spy: “Just Remember that It’s a Grand Illusion”

As I disclosed last month, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

On top of being the guy who prevented the Republican platform from taking an aggressive stance against Russia, JD Gordon is the Trump associate who spends a lot of time claiming that Jeff Sessions opposed George Papadopoulos’ plans to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin.

Which is why I get such a kick out of the story that Russia’s NRA spy, Mariia Butina, spent September and October cultivating Gordon, and they even went to a Styx concert together.

The two exchanged several emails in September and October 2016, culminating in an invitation from Gordon to attend a concert by the rock band Styx in Washington. Gordon also invited Butina to attend his birthday party in late October of that year.

Which means the Russian NRA spy and the Trump campaign National Security Advisor went to hear a version of the Grand Illusion together.

“I wonder which prominent Republican political figures she hasn’t come across?” Gordon asked.


89 replies
  1. Rusharuse says:

    He say I know you, you know me\one thing I can tell you is you got to be free\come together, right now . . over me


  2. rattlemullet says:


    I would like to thank you for your professional journalism, long time reader, I fully appreciate what you do. So will the end result, in your opinion, expose how pervasive the Russian influence has threaded itself through the republican house and senate? I feel that many of them are compicit in violation of the law by conspiring with a forgien entity to influence an American election.


    • Bob Conyers says:

      EoH – La Grande Illusion was my first thought when I saw that reference to their date, but I should have realized a GOP operative would never have the good taste or sense of humor to enjoy it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Do Not Attempt To Adjust Your Dial….

      That intro was from the days when you had rabbit ears, three stations, and had to stand up and walk to the TV in order to adjust the volume or change the channel.  Almost as funny as that briefcase sized “mobile phone” in the first Lethal Weapon.

        • pdaly says:

          And the youngest child being tasked to get up and change the channel with pliers after the plastic channel changing knob was no more.

          Our family TV did not have rabbit ears as I grew up, because my older siblings, in a flash of inspiration the morning after watching the 3 Musketeers, snapped them off to fence with each other.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            At least with the Outer Limits, they controlled the horizontal, they controlled the vertical adjustments, which would have been hard even with needle-nose pliers.

            Good fencing gear, but curtain rods were better.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, the Outer Limits might have been entered the moment that Styx Grand Illusion appeared on this blog. I would like it to be known that all Styx after Equinox is dubious…

      Also, The Outer Limits was freaking great.

    • Milton Wiltmellow says:

      Russian playbook opened by Rod Serling:

      The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.

      The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices – to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill – and suspicion can destroy – and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children – and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is – that these things cannot be confined – to the Twilight Zone.

      • Pete says:

        EZ maybe (by my tongue in cheek),  but Serling was one of the most prescient of his era.

        Thanks – very on point!

  3. Peterr says:

    But don’t be fooled by the radio
    The TV or the magazines . . .

    ASCAP has some seriously no-nonsense lawyers, who may want to send Donald Trump an invoice for a royalties payment on behalf of Dennis DeYoung.

  4. Bob Conyers says:

    From that Post article, “I wonder which prominent Republican political figures she hasn’t come across?” is supposed to be in his own defense, but wow is that a stupid thing for a former spokesman to say. “Sure, detective, I was at the scene of the crime, but I’m sure you’ll also find other guys’ fingerprints along with mine on the cash register when you start dusting.”

    And what kind of guy thinks a 20 something woman is going to a Styx concert because she’s truly interesred in him? This is going to be interesting.

    • Thomas says:

      As a guy in his fifties who has dated 20-something women, and who isn’t rich, or politically connected, I resent this kneejerk assumption that young women can’t possibly be interested in older men. I noticed this same sneering over the Ali Watkins story.

      It might be true that some women have ulterior motives in dating men who are much older than they are, but this shouldn’t be some kind of automatic assumption! You may not want to believe it, but yes, younger people (men and women) sometimes date older people, and yes…just because they like them.

      I haven’t dated any spies or journalists, so I have no way of sorting that! But the comments about “who would likely date whom” are not relevant in a broader sense.

  5. Avattoir says:

    How the Grand Illusion works, Manafort Trial #1 Coverage:
    Last night some nitwit at that right-light mess Mediaite posted a ‘report’ detailing a supposed blow up by Judge Ellis at the government over a supposed attempt by the prosecution to promote a non-expert witness into giving the jury an expert opinion, complete with Ellis standing up beside his chair growling ‘That’s enough’ at the first attempt, then yelling ‘I SAID THAT’S ENOUGH!’ in a furious and threatening tone, as if the government had forfeited all further judicial cooperation in the exercise.

    Drudge of course right this up & linked to it from his front page.

    Never happened. The witness was an accountant who provided services for Manafort. The government was moving into a new area, and the judge wanted to close for the day. Which is NORMAL – especially for judges like Ellis.

    A more courteous judge would have engaged trial counsel briefly by pointing out the late hour, asking after their plans for the rest of the day, and suggesting the jury might like to call it a day. But Ellis has his way, in the end not so pleasant but it works the same.

    But all the Trumpalos and QAnons who believe they’re doing their best to ‘stay informed’ won’t know any of that.
    Not a single beat reporter in regular msm even bothered mentioning the supposed blow-up incidence, because it’s something they see every. freaking. day. as normal. as. can. be.
    And now I have no doubt at all that the supposed Ellis blow-up at the prosecution is burning up the wingosphere – whereas, in Reality World, the government just closed a terrific day of evidence in favor of their case, and left the jury to contemplate all the fraud and fakery and double-switcheroos Manafort – MANAFORT, not Gates, said the witnesses – pulled with his foreign money transfers, supposed loans, supposed loan foregiveness, fraudulent loan applications and phonied up income & loss statements in the tax returns.

    So when Manafort goes down it’ll be treated as a shock, a phony verdict, the Deep State pulling off another dastardly plot.

    I’ve never thought much of Mediaite, but it never actually hit me before this incident how low young Danny Abrams sits in the tank.

    • Thomas says:


      Would it do any good to refute any such wingnut stories that will no doubt circulate through social media? Refute them with a court transcript, or maybe even a meme with a link to the transcript?

      I mean, how persuadable are people who aren’t diehard crackpots but just misinformed by crackpots? I wonder if we have research on this topic…

      • cat herder says:

        Those same crackpots the persuadables are already listening to will explain how ‘evidence’ is proof of just how deep the conspiracy goes. It’s an infinite series of interconnected circular rabbit holes.

  6. pseudonymous in nc says:

    ‘“I wonder which prominent Republican political figures she hasn’t come across?” Gordon asked.’

    The salacious rejoinders write themselves.

    What’s the deal with Paul Erickson? There have been a lot of pieces on Butina that unearth new facts but all of them blankly say he’s not answering requests for comment. Same with George O’Neill. Well, okay, maybe do some journalism? Or are they in witness (witless) protection?

    • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

      It’s Rudy G that needs the witless protection program. If asked if he knows how many witnesses in the Manafort trial have been immunized, Rudy would probably respond:”They have all had their flu shots.”

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      And the NYT’s big piece does the same thing in a piece with five bylines and three additional reporters: O’Neill “declined to comment”, but “Mr. Erickson, the political operative… could not be reached for comment.”

      “Could not be reached”? Isn’t that kind of newsworthy by itself? He might not have been charged, but he’s going to be a key witness in the case against Butina, and he’s been totally incommunicado since her arrest?


  7. Rapier says:

    I can forgive a lot of things. I’m sort of a liberal after all and was raised a Christian, back in the day when forgiveness was divine, but one thing I cannot forgive is Styx.

    • TheraP says:

      “Styx and stones – wil break your bones…” As they say.

      But I never believed the second part of that.

  8. Trip says:

    Fun Fact: Gordon tried to accuse Rosenberg of sexual harassment.

    Rosenberg has been a honey badger reporting on Gitmo.


    In a letter to the paper’s editor, Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon accused Carol Rosenberg of “multiple incidents of abusive and degrading comments of an explicitly sexual nature.” Gordon, who deals primarily with the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison, said in the letter that this was a “formal sexual harassment complaint” and asked the Herald for a “thorough investigation.”
    “Her behavior has been so atrocious over the years,” Gordon said in an interview. “I’ve been abused worse than the detainees have been abused.”

    In addition, the letter alleged, Rosenberg “routinely labeled my colleagues in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Justice Department, as well as her peers in the press, as ‘bitches,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘incompetent,’ ‘Nazis,’ ‘Saddam Hussein-like,’ etc.” Gordon works for Defense Secretary Robert Gates and said he consulted department lawyers in drafting the letter.
    One friend, Los Angeles Times reporter Carol Williams, dismissed the letter, saying, “This is an attempt to discredit a journalist who has managed to transcend incredible odds to cover a story of tremendous significance to the American public.”

    JFC, “I’ve been abused worse than the detainees have been abused.” Yeah, he’s the real victim.

    Why do these neocons’ political careers never die?

    • emptywheel says:

      Ah, thanks for the reminder, one I should always raise when discussing JD Gordon.

      I’m frankly, sympathetic with the discomfort that comes from learning you’ve been unwittingly recruited by a Russian spy. Except, what a shithole.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        How unwitting was he? I’ve read accounts that Butina was barely less restrained than Sasha Baron Cohen’s Israeli gun advocate character.

      • Trip says:

        While I appreciate and understand your capacity for empathy, this dude was pulled onto the campaign as Director of National Security and he was 1. oblivious to Papadapoulos’ push for a Trump-Putin meeting and 2. also so fogged out by midlife crisis that he actually fell for the sham that a 20-something was into Styx and wanting to spend time with his old ass?

        He is either the MOST incompetent security person in history or he was directly in on the game.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Midlife crisis probably trumps competence every time.  Ms. Butina seems to fit a well-known stereotype, but explaining her to someone in extremis would be like trying to explain the sea to a dweller on Arrakis. To be fair, neither Caesar nor Mark Antony were immune.

          Her gun-handling skills are presumably owing to extensive training in Moscow.  Since civilians have no guns or gun rights to promote, she would have had plenty of time to pursue other goals.

          Infiltrating the Trump campaign must have been like walking on the moon to Vlad and the boys.

          • pseudonymous in nc says:

            The “learned to hunt in Siberia” backstory is almost certainly fake and created to appeal to, say, someone from South Dakota.

            I think you can split the difference on this: in 2014-15 (basically dating from the ouster of Yanukovich and invasion of Crimea) it’s an influence op that capitalises on old Republicans liking young women and hating Obama, up to the point when she asks that question at the “FreedomFest” in July 2015. In retrospect, Bannon and others wonder whether it was a setup: how did she get the first question?

            After that, if you’re hanging out with Butina then you know the game and just assume that there won’t be any consequences for playing.

  9. Peacerme says:

    Aside from the thought that the two may have enjoyed the song together, which is the point of reporting this clever coincidence, Styx jumped the shark with this album, in my humble opinion.

    More to my liking…if we were to simply refer to the pattern of corporate greed, lies and hedonism, as represented in the music of our lives…

    ”And the people bowed and prayed…to the neon God they made”.

    He is pretty damn neon.


    • Fran of the North says:


      Nice S&G reference there. And…

      “Fools!” Said I.

      “You do not know. Silence like a cancer grows.”

      If ever there was a time to speak up, it is now.

      Best, Fran

  10. booond says:

    If only JD were a Zevon fan he could wail, “how was I to know she was with the Russians, too.”

  11. Thomas says:


    Would it do any good to refute any such wingnut stories that will no doubt circulate through social media? Refute them with a court transcript, or maybe even a meme with a link to the transcript?

    I mean, how persuadable are people who aren’t diehard crackpots but just misinformed by crackpots? I wonder if we have research on this topic…

  12. pdaly says:

    So many Republicans with frequent interactions with Russians, and yet Pence is noticeably absent in the news.

    Pence’s rule of ‘no dining alone with a woman not his wife’ seems not only like a patriarchal way of keeping women out of power circles but now also like a response to any Butina-like honeypot operations. Was Pence propositioned during the Trump campaign?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Paulie apparently insisted on Mikey being the VP nominee, and he got away with it.  A guy so fundamentalist and conservative that fundamentalist and conservative Indiana wanted no more of him.  That is being too Catholic – and radical – for the pope.

      That Pence is embarrassingly obsequious is obvious.  Witness his water bottle stunts with Trump.  He is also stunningly committed to his radicalism.  That makes him useful.  But to whom and why?

      • pdaly says:

        I missed that water bottle mirroring behavior.
        Getting ready for a photo op would be the only excuse to otherwise obsequious behavior on Pence’s part.

        Was it both Manafort and the Kochs who placed Pence in the VP seat? The Apocalypse and a New Jerusalem are likely reasons for keeping Pence around and catering to the religious right.

        That Flynn was fired because he ‘lied to Pence’ about interacting with Russians has always seemed like a flimsy cover story.  The list of characters interacting with Russians has grown.
        Flynn, Gates, Manafort, Papadopoulos, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner. etc. have meetings with Russians, but Pence, as running mate and then coordinator of the transition team is consistently left in the dark?  He is such a perfectly domesticated mushroom.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      It’s possible the Kochs could engineer something, but I suspect they’d be more likely to push for a primary candidate for 2020.

      Murdoch tried to knock out Trump, and realized before too long that even the power of Fox wasn’t going to work and came to an accomodation. I think the oligarchs realize they’re stuck for now and will wait to see if things are clarified over the next eight months or so before they have to decide if they’ll back a primary challenge.

      I think to a large extent it’s Trump who is making this an issue. He wants to force the Kochs to reveal themselves early before their commitments are cemented so that he can squash them.

      • Trip says:

        I think it’s the Kochs trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Their name is stamped all over some of the shitiest things that have come to pass under Trump, which will hurt most people.

        And Bannon likes to play this cover game as an “everyman” when he has his own wealth and was bankrolled by the Mercers. It’s a giant facade and show before the midterms.

  13. Thomas says:

    To all the people who responded to my defense of younger women who date older men:

    I have only seen Styx with women my own age!

    I once picked up some young hitchhikers who got me into second row for Judas Priest, but other than that I can’t recall any young ladies angling me for a concert!

    And again, I’m not up for any kind of government position ;^D

    Breakin the law, BREAKIN the law!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I think the wit was directed at the insanity that can accompany the male midlife crisis, not at May-December romances in general.  Its hold can prevent rational thinking, such as identifying a potential and apparently obvious honey trap.

      The Trump campaign was littered with many other personality driven vulnerabilities.  But this one is so fitting for the Don’s campaign that mirth is the only sensible response.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        I mean, look at the blonde clones on Fox News, or Lana Douche posing in leather jackets, or Curly Miss AR-15 at Kent State. Or even Diamond and Silk. There is a huge amount invested in the idea that conservatism is attractive to people who don’t look like Paul Erickson.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This article by Naomi Klein deserves a wide readership:

    Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature”

    She corrects a glaring lapse in the NYT Magazine’s celebrated long read: Losing the Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.  The NYT, fittingly for the great manufacturer of consent, does not blame American or global capitalism or its radical neoliberal variant.  It blames mother “human nature”. 

    That’s a variation on blame everybody, which means nobody, which gives the NYT’s corporate sponsors a free ride. The implication is that we lay back and enjoy the inevitable.

    Ms. Klein’s thesis, and that of the Times’s Nathaniel Rich, is that the scientific community, by the end of the 1980s, had the data to say unequivocally that human activity was dangerously increasing global temperatures, with predictably bad results.

    The problem, according to Ms. Klein, is that 1989 was also the peak of neoliberalism’s global effort to free the wealthy, business, and finance capital from purportedly stifling government interventions designed to protect people and their environment.  Neoliberals, having rolled their great snowball uphill, then let it roll down.  And here we are today.

    Ms. Klein points out that it is not too late.  We are at a moment when neoliberalism’s many faults have become obvious to many.  We are in a position to reverse some of its cultural, political, and economic gains.  Ms. Klein:

    We aren’t losing earth — but the earth is getting so hot so fast that it is on a trajectory to lose a great many of us. In the nick of time, a new political path to safety is presenting itself. This is no moment to bemoan our lost decades. It’s the moment to get the hell on that path.

    • Trip says:

      Good post, @earl. They (GOP) are embarking on acceleration; like pedal to the metal speed. It’s figuratively and (perhaps literally) self-immolation.

      Trump either doesn’t GAF about his grandchildren or children, or maybe he thinks his space force will rescue all the rich people and plant them on a distant planet.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Sadly, they may think they are destined to be rescued in such a fashion.

        I’m sure they are not familiar with ‘nuke from orbit’.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I think there might be a case for neoliberalism tipping the balance against climate change action, although I’m not sure how much of the role of traditional forces should be ignored.

      The traditional fossil fuel, auto, energy generation and transportation companies were deeply opposed to a carbon tax or cap and trade. I don’t think they were deeply invested in some kind of philosophical movement, they didn’t particularly care about issues of financial industry regulation or welfare policy. They just knew that anything that increased the cost per barrel of crude oil or the cost per ton of coal would hurt their near term profits, and they had enormous political clout.

      That’s not to say there wasn’t an overlap between neoliberals and old school industrialists, just that I think it’s a mistake to conflate the two.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Neoliberalism is a political movement with economic and social effects. 

        It is not an ethereal philosophical movement confined to the academy.  It is a street fighter’s weapon – albeit wielded by those wearing Brooks Brothers suits – through which an elite has imposed its priorities and policies on all of us.

        In the mid-twentieth century, before neoliberalism had been put to so much effective use, John Dewey described the dynamic in a manner equally recognizable by Mark Twain and Naomi Klein:

        Policy is the shadow cast on society by big business.

        I would echo Dick Cheney and say, as can be seen in Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, that personnel is policy.

        • bmaz says:

          To quoteth Dick: “We are entitled to our due”.

          Apparently even when you lose the popular vote by Three Million.

          • TomVet says:

            This is also the thrust of NRA’s lawsuit in N.Y.; you have to make these people do business with us because it’s hurting our bottom line when they won’t.

            They think that because they once were successful at their job they must always be entitled to continue, even when people’s perception of them has changed and they no longer are relevant.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I still don’t think it’s right to call the anti climate change movement an overwhelmingly neoliberal enterprise. It’s a case where neoliberal and old school conservative economic interests overlap, but that doesn’t make them identical.

          The auto industry has fought climate change because they have huge capital investments in producing polluting vehicles, and they want to protect those investments. They fear a major drop in demand if there was a major carbon tax.

          The neoliberals have other concerns, in large part due to the implications of a sustained largescale government program, and also fears of what the government might do with all of the money it might collect. Wealth redistibution? Jobs programs? Public infrastructure? The horror!

          The concern I have with lumping these two different groups together is a parallel I have with a number of people who use the terms neoconservative and conservative as synonyms. They have significant overlaps, but they’re not the same, and in the policy arena it’s always worth thinking about the differences among your opponents – that’s often a key to beating them.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      An important concurrence with Naomi Klein comes from Alyssa Battistoni.

      So there’s a story to tell about the 1980s and climate change all right, but it’s not this [Nathaniel Rich’s] one. The story that matters is one about an ascendant neoliberalism being put into practice: about the crushing of trade unions and the loss of counters to corporate power.

      Battistoni makes several important points.  One is to counter Rich’s supposition that “everyone” knew about climate change, and “everyone” is complicit in not acting to slow it:  “It’s not the oil industry; it’s not Republicans; it’s not capitalism: it’s all of us. It’s democracy. It’s the human species.”

      All being complicit means no one is complicit.  The Monopoly Game has a card for that.

      Rich’s formulation also denies agency: who did what, when and why.  Industry and the politicians it sponsors worked hard on two fronts.  It worked hard to prevent political action on climate change.  It is still doing so.  It worked hard to prevent a public consensus from forming that matched the scientific one.  We did not all know then, we do not all know now.

      The public could not be allowed to learn enough to agree that climate change was upon us, that we could do something about it, and that doing something about it would require changes that adversely affected energy consumption and the fossil fuel industry’s profits.

      But if we’re going to do something about it, we have to know how we got here. And you cannot tell the story of climate change without telling the story of twentieth-century capitalism — at the very least. You cannot understand the politics of the 1980s in the United States without understanding neoliberalism.

      Those outcomes have nothing to do with democracy or human nature.  They are a choice, and they arise from decades of concerted propaganda and denial.  The aspect of human nature that is involved is our tolerance for predation.  We seem too comfortable with the cuckoos in our midst and keep trying to appease them rather than roll them out of the nest to fend on their own.

      • Valley girl says:

        OT but if you are still reading pls check out my comment to you on GRU thread.. where we were getting off topic about Andrew Sullivan.

  15. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    To Pete, EOH, Peterr,bmaz et al:
    “you have to be really old like me to remember the Outer Limits”
    Actually The Twilight Zone started in 1959 and our entire family stayed up to watch it from the beginning. The Outer Limits didn’t start until 1963 and was a step down from TTZ, good but not as good .

    • bmaz says:

      I’d pretty much agree with that, though I liked TOL a lot too. I came to know both off of reruns in the mid to later 60’s on a local channel “Sci-Fi Saturday Morning” or something like that. Loved both though. And never missed a chance to see them.

Comments are closed.