The entire question of whether Donald Trump “colluded” with the Russians to win the 2016 presidential election centered on whether or not there was a quid pro quo in place for their assistance. Although the investigation has taken to calling it, more appropriately, “conspiring” with Russia, the basics of the case haven’t changed: Did Donald Trump promise to lift the crippling sanctions on Russia that the hostile foreign power has been trying to overturn for years in exchange for an assist from Russia?
There has been plenty of circumstantial evidence that this took place — from the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump’s son and Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya where the sanctions were specifically discussed, as well as “dirt” on Trump’s opponent, to the fact that Trump almost immediately gave back Russian compounds in New York and Maryland that had been seized by the Obama administration as punishment for their interference in the election.
But if you’re more than a little anxious to see what all of this looks like to Robert Mueller as a coalesced thought — to see through the lens that Mueller is surely viewing all of this “circumstantial” evidence through — we’ve got just the video for you.
Left-leaning publication Mother Jones published a timeline on Thursday of some Russian central agents — emissaries of Vladimir Putin — who spent a lot of time actively trying to court the Trump campaign through various channels, including banking, legislative connections with the GOP, and even the NRA. And although only one of the pair — Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank — says that he’s actually met with Trump (in 2015; a meeting Torshin described as “jovial”), the woman involved has been extensively covered by MJ, the Daily Beast, and a number of other publications.
Her name is Maria Butina, and it is Butina to whom Trump is speaking in this video, transcribed without correction first, then shown below:
BUTINA: I am visiting from Russia.
TRUMP: Ahhhhh, Putin! Good friend of Obama, Putin. He likes Obama a lot. Go ahead.
BUTINA: My question will be about foreign politics. If you will be elected as president, what will be your foreign politics especially in the relationships with my country? And do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging of both economy? Or you have any other ideas?
TRUMP: I know Putin, and I’ll tell you what, we get along with Putin… I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK? And I mean, where we have the strength. I don’t think you’d need the sanctions. I think we would get along very, very well.”
The exchange is unscripted, taking place at the annual Libertarian “FreedomFest,” but Butina is a woman that Trump has already had contact with — which you know if you’ve read any of the included links in this article.
So there you have it. If you want to know how all of this sounds to Robert Mueller as the lead investigator hunting just this kind of proof, consider this your inside track to his mind.