Moments ago, I recorded an interview with Maria Butina. If that name rings a bell, it’s because she was a fixation of the Leftist media in the United States, while they were trying to make Donald Trump out to be an agent of the Russian government.
Before I play the interview, I should address an expectation that will arise from hearing that name. I do not discuss in any detail during this interview, Maria’s legal problems in the United States, or the allegations of Russian influence operations. Maria denies that she was acting as an agent of the Russian Federation, and she comes across as sincere in this denial. She was more than willing to discuss this subject, or really any other subject, with me on the show.
I made the choice not to make that the subject of our talk today, both because I sincerely wanted to know more about the subject we are going to discuss, which is ethnic relations in the Russian Federation, and because I don’t think that what Maria was convicted of should have been a crime, even if everything she was accused of was true. Even if Vladimir Putin himself directed her every action in the United States, nothing she was accused of, much less what she actually did, was against American interests. She was seeking peace, and she had the wisdom to know that the Republican Party was the place to find it.
It is the people who want war who are acting against the interests of the United States, and the fact that their paychecks are drawn from the US treasury does not make me feel any better about their malign influence in our politics.
The foreign policy that Donald Trump campaigned on was to improve relations with the Russian Federation. I supported that policy in 2016, and the events that have unfolded since have only reinforced my belief that it was and is the correct policy. The fact that this policy was sabotaged has costed the United States, and the world, very dearly. It should go without saying that it has negatively impacted Russia, and I would argue, has not improved the lives of Ukrainians either.
I welcome efforts to influence American opinion and policy in favor of the Russian Federation because I believe this to be in the best interests of the United States, and I do not much care who signs the paychecks of the people who do it. That was the only controversy in Maria’s legal problems. The government accused her of acting as a foreign agent, and she said she was not acting as an agent of the Russian Federation.
Well, to quote Hillary Clinton “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Well, it obviously makes a great deal of difference to Maria, because she spent 18 months in prison over it, and we should all care that our government imprisoned a woman who was a guest in our country and was trying to help us, but the point I am making is that in my mind, the dispute at the heart of her indictment was not actually all that controversial. We do not put Jews in prison for being interested in American foreign policy, and we should all the more certainly not do this to our Russian guests. Like me, and like Paul Manafort, and like many of the January 6th defendants, among all too many others, Maria went to prison for finding herself on the opposing side of the Democrat Party.
That is a domestic political issue, and I was far more interested in learning about Russia. So, I planned today to ask Maria about ethnic relations and freedom of speech in Russia, because as this audience knows all too well, these issues are inseparable in the United States. I plan to have Maria back on in the future to discuss freedom of speech, because our discussion of the ethnic question occupied the entirety of the time we had available.
I am grateful to Maria for taking the time today, and I hope you will enjoy listening to our conversation.