A Day after Maria Butina Argues Influence Operations Shouldn’t Be Charged as Spying, Plea Negotiations Start

As a number of people reported, on Friday, the government and Maria Butina got the court to delay her case by two weeks so they can try to resolve it, suggesting they’re in plea negotiations.

In support of this motion, the parties state that they continue to engage, as they did prior to yesterday’s defense filing, in negotiations regarding a potential resolution of this matter and that those negotiations would be potentially hindered by simultaneously engaging in motions practice. The parties further agree that to make the best and most efficient use of the Court’s time and resources to decide any motions in the event those negotiations are unsuccessful, it would be prudent to continue the upcoming hearing and its accompanying motions schedule for approximately two weeks.

As part of that delay, Butina withdrew a motion submitted on Thursday without prejudice (meaning she can resubmit it if plea talks fail). The motion asked the court to declare 18 USC 951 (which is what the US government charges foreign spies with) unconstitutional as applied to influence operations.

The motion lays out a bunch of hypothetical cases with vague parallels to Butina’s to lay out the danger of using 951 to prosecute those conducting influence operations. Some are farcical, in which a thoughtful grandmother takes on the role that Aleksandr Torshin does in Butina’s operation.

An unregistered, lonely grandson from an unpopular, provincial country accepts the advice of his grandmother about how to make friends. She thoughtfully directs him to go to prayer groups and same-interest meetups to meet people with common interests. He violates section 951 if the grandmother is a foreign official, even though the grandmother provided such direction while visiting the United States on holiday.

A non-hypothetical comparison, however, is more apt, arguing convincingly that an Israeli influence tour might be prosecuted if Israelis were treated with the suspicion Russians currently are.

Consider recent events regarding Israeli soldiers touring cities across the United States for the 11th Israeli Soldiers Tour to speak at venues, including college campuses, to raise awareness of the realities of their service.10 Sponsored by StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy group funded and supported by hasbara organizations and the Israeli government, these soldiers travel the United States to conduct influence operations intended to pacify U.S. views, change foreign policy, and put a human face on the Israeli military. Is there any doubt that such unregistered agents could be charged under the same interpretation of section 951 used against Maria– for operating in the United States as “agents” of Israel when directed to go to U.S. schools and then brief their IDF11 military commanders on their reception in the United States? Is there any doubt that they wouldn’t be? The point is not that such activities are improper. They are not. However, they are precisely the kind of educational exchanges and necessary uninhibited marketplace of ideas that are sought and encouraged when foreign students and visitors like Maria are admitted to U.S. universities.

The motion ultimately argues that before using 951 against an influence operation the statute should have the kind of limits that exist in the FARA statute.

To resolve the constitutional problem presented by the statute’s broad application, this court should—at least as to political activities—narrow the sweep of section 951 so that it aligns more closely with the constitutional safeguards recognized by Congress in the Foreign Agent Registration Act (known as “FARA”).

Worse, as for cases involving ‘political activities,’ it allows the government to pursue harsher penalties with additional restraints on individual liberty, compare 18 U.S.C. § 951 (10 years imprisonment) with 22 U.S.C. § 618 (5 years imprisonment), without enduring the additional cost of satisfying higher burdens of proof, see 22 U.S.C. §§ 611(o) and 618(a) (authorizing prosecution only for “willful” violations and specific kinds of “political activities”), thus circumventing the inherent check on government overreaching that the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause was designed to instill. If left unchecked, federal investigators and prosecutors will have strong incentives to prosecute political activity cases under section 951 instead of FARA, so they can reap the law-enforcement benefits of section 951’s penalties without paying the price of higher burdens of proof.

To avoid that distortion, this court should consider the catch-all, sweeping application of section 951 when applied to political activities, in comparison with the statutory restraints of FARA as applied to the same, in assessing whether section 951 exposes Maria to the risk of arbitrary enforcement. Such an approach would provide an accurate answer to the doctrinal question at hand: whether section 951 is constitutionally deficient (and/or in need of a limiting construction) because it “confers on police a virtually unrestrained power to arrest and charge persons with a violation” thereby permitting “policemen, prosecutors, and juries to pursue their personal predilections.” Kolender, 461 U.S. at 358.

It’s a fair argument, at least in this case. Back in August, I did two posts pointing out there was little difference between what Paul Manafort was accused of in his DC case and Maria Butina was accused of.

It’s unclear whether the plea negotiations are a response to this motion or not. Some of the evidence against Butina described thus far suggests her operation has the approval of Putin himself (though the Israeli StandWithUs tour is the kind of thing Bibi Netanyahu likely loves). But other evidence — such as a claim she’s coordinating with FSB (which, after all, is the closest analogue to the FBI) appears sketchy. So while it’s possible that Butina is a privately funded spy running an influence operation on behalf of the Russian government, it’s also true that to prove that, the government may have to share more classified information than they care to. And while I’m skeptical the constitutional challenge to 951 would work (in part because courts are loathe to tamper with national security law, in part because the claim that Butina chose to come to the US as a student does seem to have been chosen with the influence operation in mind), the government probably wants to retain their ability to use it with clearcut spies engaging in influence operations.

So I could imagine the government might be willing to settle this with either a FARA plea (which would further reinforce the FARA regime Mueller has introduced) or a visa fraud charge, particularly if Butina were willing to implicate Paul Erickson and other Americans who had helped her efforts.

45 replies
  1. Trip says:

    Russia isn’t all that down with Second Amendment rights. Yet Butina practiced her shooting skills well in advance before latching on to the NRA older dude squad. Maybe she was compartmentalized, separate from the money pipeline by the Kremlin to the NRA, but she was doing some espionage, at least in so far as sniffing out who she thought might win the election. And then casually showing up to ask what looked like a plant question to Trump on Russia at the 2015 NRA convention. All pretty subtle (yet sophisticated) little steps for a lone person wanting to practice amateur diplomacy. She got the glossy photo spread coverage at home.

    Also, it’s about time that Israel lobbyists sign up as agents of a foreign gov’t. Cough~Dersh~cough.

    • earlofhuntingon says:

      Needless to say, there are no Second Amendment rights in Russia.  Gun ownership by citizens outside of approved channels would be discouraged.  Any Russian version of the NRA would be part of a government op or be banned with prejudice.

      Butina’s cover appears to mimic American models and expectations, not Russian.  Were she to play the role in Russia her cover claims for her, she’d have been dealt with in short order.  A more likely source for her skill with weapons is military or spy school training.

      • Trip says:

        Yep. Exactly @earl. Also, at her age, and being a student, you’d think she’d focus most of her energy there with younger people. Not reaching out to older politicians.

  2. bmaz says:

    Baloney. This may have moved the needle ever so slightly toward a real agreement (and this case has always cried out for one), but plea negotiations on any kind of big case start the day the defense notice of appearance is filed, or within a few days thereof. Any defense attorney wants to know where the current line is, and what the government is looking for. So you ask. Here, however, hard to see the government being overly concerned about said defense motion.

    • emptywheel says:

      As I said, several pieces of evidence that would prove she was an Agent of Russia as opposed to an Agent working for Russians have turned to shit.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah,but the motion was withdrawn, not left in place on normal schedule or even stipulated to have such regular dates extended. That says to me it is not the determinative factor. If it is, and it is actually strong enough to move the government, you leave it in place to force the settlement. Just guessing, but I don’t think that is it.

  3. Eureka says:

    “Maria.”  I hadn’t noticed her attys calling her Maria in docs before (as opposed to (Ms.) Butina).

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      Maybe they’ve been speaking to her grandmother…who obviously suggested she become firearm proficient to enhance her NRA Talibangelical bona fides.

  4. Eureka says:

    re one of their examples:

    Consider recent events regarding Israeli soldiers touring cities across the United States for the 11th Israeli Soldiers Tour to speak at venues, including college campuses, to raise awareness of the realities of their service.10 Sponsored by StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy group funded and supported by hasbara organizations and the Israeli government, these soldiers travel the United States to conduct influence operations intended to pacify U.S. views, change foreign policy, and put a human face on the Israeli military.

    I had never heard of the ‘Stand With Us’ Israel ? military advocacy group.  I see this as a tactical inversion of reality, using the ‘Stand With ____’ idiom to make them seem like the weaker party.

    I complained about mis-/casually-appropriating this slogan in a couple of comments here, kind of crappily but it makes the point.

    • JD12 says:

      They probably see it as the correct application—playing the victim is kind of their shtick.

      Israel is vulnerable in a way that is difficult for Americans to understand. We have two big oceans between us and our adversaries; they’re surrounded by 400 million people who mostly despise them. (Demographics would doom them in any major war, which makes the Iran nuclear threat mostly a red herring.) But they definitely overplay their hand, and a lot of their own actions make things worse.

      • Eureka says:

        All excellent points, and probably why that would/will remain a foreign policy plea-to-(but you’re stronger)-friends-type stance.

          • JD12 says:

            Public opinion has been changing a lot these last few years with the help of social media and smartphone cameras. Israel had a monopoly on information for a long time.

            With his “America first” policies it’s a little surprising that Trump supports Israel as much as he does. You don’t see him complaining about trade deficits or shaking them down for protection payments. I guess like most conservatives he conflates Israeli interests with American interests.

            • Trip says:

              The Kushner family and Bibi go way back. Some of Trump’s and his family’s connections to Russia are via (Russian) Israeli citizens. There are personal incentives for self-dealing (in a few of those countries). Flynn, Bannon, Prince, etc. envisioned a worldwide religious war. Flynn’s book talked about the need for propaganda in schools, etc. against Islam, for Christianity. “Morals” and religion are the guise for control of behavior (Russia, with the orthodox church “outreach” in place of communism), but it’s really about money and power (isn’t it always?). The players whose interests are “above the US”, and/or who are never challenged, are all within this hard right universe. As more is revealed, you can see them putting pieces together before the election (maybe even before Trump became the puppet), with dark money in manipulation (Brexit, breaking up EU, Gatestone, others, etc). If you notice, some of the old names are the new names again, and they are the neocons, coming back with a vengeance (Bolton, Prince, Haspel, for example). This is a really simplistic take, but as more comes out, it seems to have been a plot of rearranging worldwide power structure via international moneyed oligarchs (oil, diamonds, and so on). Fascism as an excuse for safety. In all honesty, though, we’ve been steadily on that course since 9/11, where individual freedom and rights have been sacrificed in the name of the war on terrorism.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      I think there’s a quantitative difference here: When soldiers from other countries travel and discuss their service, it’s very obvious who they represent and what country’s point of view you can expect to be hearing. Even people of average intelligence and education will see that and adjust their thinking appropriately. On the other hand, when a young Russian lady travels as a “student,” dates older men with influence, and discusses her very Russian perspective, it’s really hard to know whether she’s Mata Hari or just a gold digger with a not-American point of view, so I’m not nearly so concerned if the Israeli soldiers don’t register.

  5. samuel morgan says:

    Off subject–during the lull, why no discussion about Brexit, Bannon, and the Mercers and current info on them? Our Mueller bit is just a part.

    • Trip says:

      Brexit bankroller Arron Banks, Cambridge Analytica and Steve Bannon – explosive emails reveal fresh links

      “The emails also show that contact between key Trump aides like Steve Bannon, and men like Arron Banks, was not just passing, but that they were working together through and involving common businesses, like Cambridge Analytica.”
      Emails and documents obtained by openDemocracy show that:
      • – Far-right guru Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chief, personally introduced Cambridge Analytica to Banks’s Brexit campaign, which is now under criminal investigation.

      • – Banks asked Cambridge Analytica “to come up with a strategy” for his Leave.EU campaign to raise funds in the United States months before the Brexit vote. Donations from overseas are not permitted under British law.
      • Cambridge Analytica was given access to personal information about British voters from Banks’s Leave.EU campaign, including access to social media accounts and call centre data. Banks has previously claimed to parliament that “the only data that was ever sent to Cambridge Analytica was from UKIP”.
      • Cambridge Analytica discussed working with Bank’s Eldon Insurance company. Leave.EU had previously said “we never involved the insurance company and Cambridge Analytica ever.
(fair use, more at link).. https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan/brexit-bankroller-arron-banks-cambridge-analytica-and-steve-bannon-expl

        • Trip says:

          Good question. I thought her resignation might have been a reaction to the CIA determining that the Prince ordered Khashoggi’s murder, and Trump’s defiance in accepting that. But who knows?

          New Trump White House aide has Cambridge Analytica ties

          By JOSH MEYER /Politico

          There is no indication that Fontenrose, who also has worked for the State Department and U.S. military, was involved in Cambridge’s election effort or any other activities that have come under scrutiny by investigators. ..But her work for Cambridge’s parent company, SCL Group, underscores the firm’s influence in Trump’s Washington..
          After Trump took office in January 2017, SCL Group was a constant presence in Washington, lobbying to win new intelligence, defense and civilian contracts across multiple U.S. government agencies. The Washington Post reported in February 2017 that SCL’s effort was being driven by a former aide to Flynn, and that Flynn himself had served as an adviser to the company in its efforts to expand its contracting work.
          Other newly hired former government officials also helped in that expansion effort, according to a former Cambridge Analytica official….Fontenrose appears to have been one of them.

          • Trip says:

            Arms deals, the Sauds and Mercers

            The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea
            1 July 2017

            Baker has also taken money from an arms company while promoting the aerospace industry in parliament; accepted travel costs from the government of Equatorial Guinea before writing a report dismissing concerns about their human rights abuses; and accepted conference expenses from radical right wing American groups with links to Robert Mercer and the Koch brothers.
            Baker, the MP for Wycombe since 2010, is a new minister in the department for exiting the EU, and has declared in his register of interests that a donation of £6,500 from the secretive Constitutional Research Council paid for a conference of the Eurosceptic “European Research Group”. Before his appointment to the department, Mr Baker was chair of this group of right-wing Tory MPs. The money was used “to fund hospitality for ERG members and their staff at an event on 19 December 2016.” While it is yet to be established where the Constitutional Research Council (CRC) gets its money from, openDemocracy has previously revealed that its chair, the Scottish Tory Richard Cook, set up a business in 2013 with Prince Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a very senior Saudi prince, and former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence agency, and with Peter Haestrup, a Danish man wanted by the Indian prosecution service over his alleged role in smuggling Kalashnikovs to a Hindu group in West Bengal in 1995….American Principles in Action is a radical right group in the USA who, support a return to the gold standard (an idea that Baker often discusses), but who are better known for their hard conservative viewpoints and rhetoric… The year Baker received money from the organisation, they in turn were paid $250,000 by the American billionaire Robert Mercer, according to research by the website DeSmog. Mercer is at the centre of investigations by Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr into Brexit and the election of Donald Trump and, among other things, is the owner of the company Cambridge Analytica, which was at the heart of both campaigns. https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/new-brexit-minister-arms-industry-american-hard-right-and-e

        • Fran of the North says:

          H/T NoPants and Trip

          Like Trip, I naively assumed that Fontenrose was acting out of a sense of morals. But given the fact that she worked for  SCL, this appears to be a very deliberate move to get her out of the limelight before the latest Bannon / CA / Brexit news starts another conflagration.

          Wonder who is pulling the strings?

          • Trip says:

            Partially (in addition to war/arms):

            Cambridge Analytica’s Fossil Fuel Connections
            Several key directors at Cambridge Analytica’s parent company have direct connections to the fossil fuel industry, records show.

            Cambridge Analytica’s political associations with the Trump campaign in the US, and the Brexit campaign in the EU, overlap directly with the firm’s ties to major oil and gas companies and anti-science campaigning to deny climate change. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/gymvaw/cambridge-analyticas-fossil-fuel-connections-scl-group

            Which somewhat explains this insanity (in addition to obvious ignorance):
            Kyle Griffin
            ‏Verified account @kylegriffin1

            Trump is asked if the seeing the devastation from the California wildfires has changed his opinion on climate change.

            Trump: “No. No. I have a strong opinion: I want great climate.”

            (via CNN)

      • Trip says:

        How Arron Banks’s campaign ‘ambassador’ made his millions in Russia
        Jim Mellon introduced Brexit ‘bad boys’ Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, and was a Leave.EU ambassador. He claims he hasn’t been involved in Russia since the 1990s. But our investigation shows he still has major financial exposure to Russian investments.

        Firms linked to Mellon have continued to invest in Russia for over 25 years and adopted a strategy of investing in firms with “management close to Putin.”
        – One fund linked to Mellon set up a new firm to buy Gazprom shares on the very day that Putin announced foreigners would be allowed to purchase them.
        – The same Mellon-linked fund was selected to invest in Russia’s state diamond company as it was privatised.
        – Mellon holds a stake in a bio-tech firm with labs in the Skolkovo science park in Moscow. The FBI have warned that Skolkovo is a front for industrial espionage activities.
        – Firms linked to Mellon were involved in a number of deals with politically exposed Russian oligarchs including an ex-KGB officer, Andrey Pannikov, and Roustam Tariko, who sponsored the Miss World event in Moscow attended by Trump.
        – Mellon invested £120,000 in a South London beauty salon run by a Russian ex-Alfa Bank employee.
        Mellon’s business partner Arron Banks is listed as the main funder of the Brexit campaign, claiming to have put £12m into Leave.EU and other anti-EU groups. However, as openDemocracy revealed last year, there are serious questions about how Arron Banks could have afforded to donate that amount of money to the Brexit cause. https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/how-arron-banks-campaign-ambassador-jim-mellon-made-millions-in-russia-nigel-farage

    • harpie says:

      Here’s a really good chart and article by Wendy Siegelman, which she updates as needed:
      Social Media and Influence Companies Related to the Trump Russia Story Chart and highlights of companies reportedly involved with influence campaigns supporting Trump including SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Psy-Group, Black Cube, Data Propria and others. […]
      Here’s the bit which includes info about Fontenrose, who just resigned from NSC, Gulf Affairs:

      Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL group, conducted a surveillance operation in Yemen on behalf of Archimedes, a US-based military contractor. The contractor Archimedes does not have any known connection to the Trump campaign or administration, however, a few people who have worked with Archimedes have also worked with SCL, and one of them now works in the Trump White House. // Kirsten Fontenrose, who joined the joined the Trump White House in March 2018 as the National Security Council senior director for Gulf Affairs, previously worked at SCL when it obtained a $490K contract with the State Department, and in 2007 Fontenrose had worked at Archimedes. […] 

  6. BobCon says:

    I’m curious how any plea deal might affect the House’s efforts to get testimony from her. I have to assume the Democrats are very, very eager to dig into the NRA-Russia connection, but I don’t have a sense how Mueller’s team will try to acommodate the interests of the House Democrats, and if they view hearings as a help, hindrance, or necessary burden of doing business.

    • BobCon says:

      I’m curious if the needle has shifted at all on this issue. This is arguably a time when the threat is great enough to be a little more open, and it would have the added benefit of hurting a guy many in the community distrust (not that they’d ever admit that was a motivation). Plus, I would assume Mueller has earned some institutional respect if he makes that call.

      On the other hand, old habits die hard.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Yes and no.  Mueller will have to report to the DOJ first (whether Whitaker and/or Rosen) and that report is quite likely to make it to the Palace.  After all, Dr. Ford’s letter had to be investigated and while DiFi kept it under wraps (why did the D’s kvetch about being blindsided if she didn’t?) someone leaked it to the papers and the only other source was KQ’s Palace.  Note that Dr. Ford is still in hiding from the hordes if flying internet trolls sending death threats, and it seems KQ and the politicized DOJ isn’t lifting a finger to stop the madness.  The NYC Feebs must be so proud of themselves for creating this situation all by themselves.  No “emails” in the news meant no KQ in the Palace.

        • Willis Warren says:

          One of the weirdest things to happen last year was Trump’s releasing the LHO/Kennedy files.  In the files, there was clearly enough evidence to suggest that Oswald went to Mexico, got training from a Soviet Sniper, and then shot Kennedy in Dallas.  The CIA chose not to release that, and dealt with years of stupid conspiracy theories…  Why?  So we can keep our methods secret?  Seems kind of stupid.

  7. Larry Birnbaum says:

    The analogy to Israeli soldiers touring the US for PR purposes is highly strained.  Those efforts are clearly aimed at improving Israel’s image in the US and openly represented as such.  There’s no hidden agenda.  They are Israelis, openly advocating for Israel.

    If Butina had spent her time touring the US giving public talks about Russia’s point of view on world affairs, stressing the importance of US-Russia solidarity, etc. — that would be a reasonable analogy.  Then she would be presenting herself as a Russian, openly advocating for Russia.  And I doubt that her activities would have caught the attention of US law enforcement in that case.

    But that’s not what she was doing.

  8. Semanticleo says:

    The entire defense of the colluders en masse is nothing more than delay tactics designed to allow a command infrastructure to ply their tradecraft to conclusion. Point of no return geo politics at best.

  9. Rusharuse says:

    REMINDER . . TRUMP IS A SOCIOPATH  (For those who did not watch Fox News Sunday)
    Sociopaths are people who have little to no conscience. They will lie, cheat, steal and manipulate others for their own benefit. They know exactly what they are doing, they just don’t care because they don’t think that way. If you are naive enough, they will brainwash you into doing exactly what they say and what they want which is the only time a sociopath is truly happy. Sociopaths can hide this well if you haven’t known them for long. They’re really nice and charming at first, almost too nice, but it’s extremely fake. The niceness will last until a problem occurs in which they are at fault however, you will be manipulated to believe that you are in the wrong. There is no reasoning with this person. Things have to be their way or it’s the highway. They will blame you for hurting them (even if they’re the ones who hurt you) or blame the world for all their problems (knowing full well they do shitty things in general). They are compulsive liars and even if they do apologize, it’s never genuine. Most are anti social and have few to no friends because most people around them don’t want to associate with them. However the sociopath will again tell you that “people hate me for no reason/the world is against me”. The only person who will put up with a sociopath is someone who is off their rocker or someone who has absolutely no self respect, or both of those two combined.

    • Trip says:

      People are susceptible to cults. Especially cults of personality. Then there are people who will make out like bandits (and who are likely sociopaths themselves) who don’t GAF.

      I sell the things you need to be
      I’m the smiling face on your TV
      I’m the cult of personality
      I exploit you, still you love me
      I tell you one and one makes three


  10. Rugger9 says:

    OT but typical: it seems Kaiser Quisling is unhappy that McRaven didn’t take out OBL sooner.  He forgets that Shrub within 6 months of 9/11 stated he didn’t care that much about OBL (except when they needed a boogeyman to scare the rubes).  It started with Tora Bora and (if one believes conspiracy theorists) the Bin Laden family members being allowed to leave the USA after 9/11 when literally no one else was flying.  That still needs proof in my book, but for KQ to slam the SEALs is yet another insult to the troops as well as a slam on Shrub and Darth because they were the ones holding back.

    Someone’s going to push back, bigly.  McRaven might be constrained by good order and discipline regulations from letting loose, but I suspect others will step up.  Perhaps the CIA report on MBS will turn into an avalanche. That will create chaos in the military just in time for some more Soviet Russian adventurism, perhaps the Baltics this time. If the officers are have clearly valid grounds to question the orders from KQ it will cause delays in responding to Vlad’s next hit job.

  11. Rugger9 says:

    Raw Story today has an article about Mueller maybe subpoenaing KQ, apparently they didn’t read EW on the topic.  They went through the timelines in the August filings as if it was new news.  It’s not.


    I would suspect the Palace is trying this tack to “justify” shutting the investigation down now, since it appears KQ said just about that today when saying he didn’t know something that he clearly did.  TPM has it.


    Last but not least, Raw Story (who really should know better) actually has an article that Condi Rice (of all people) was being considered as the Browns’ head coach.  It’s bad enough she’s on the CFP committee given her vast experience in shoe shopping while New Orleans drowned.  I’m just amazed it got any traction at all beyond the Onion.


    • Mulder says:

      Reminds me of the time she had a friendly journalist imply by asking at a presser that she was a viable candidate for a Presidential run in the future.

  12. Rugger9 says:

    On the political Xmas list: O’Keefe being summoned to one of the House committees for his smear jobs.  Project “Veritas” and its ilk are protected as long as the GOP runs things but that will not be for much longer.  After hearing from Diamond and Silk, it’s not like the GOP took oversight seriously.  Add to that the punks who tried to smear Mueller on sex charges.

    Put them under oath to explain themselves.

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