JOHN KIRIAKOU: In Search of a Russiagate Scalp: The Entrapment of Maria Butina

In need of a “collusion” connection, top FBI officials have now been shown to be behind the false portrayal of an unregistered lobbyist as a spy.

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

Much has been written about Maria Butina, the Russian “spy” who was accused of seeking to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and other organizations to try to gain a foothold in the Trump campaign and, later, in the White House. Much of it turned out to be nonsense. Butina wasn’t a spy. She wasn’t charged with spying. She wasn’t accused of being a spy. But that’s how the media branded her. The important thing is that there actually were spies around her. And they weren’t who you might have thought.

In the Butina case, the FBI and the Justice Department needed a scalp in the midst of the frenzy about the ultimaely unproven collusion theory of “Russiagate,” and so Butina was charged and convicted of “conspiracy to fail to register as an agent of a foreign government.” Seriously. Let me explain what that means. The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was passed into law in 1938. It “requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of those activities.” The law, the registration, and the database are meant to keep track of foreign lobbyists. Nothing more.

Butina: Unregistered agent falsely portrayed as a spy.

In realistic terms it means this: In 2008, I was hired by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce to write a series of op-eds in support of doing business in the city. I wrote four op-eds and they paid me a fee. But I had to go to the Justice Department’s FARA website and register as a “foreign agent,” meaning that I was being paid by a foreign government. No problem. It didn’t mean that I was a “secret agent” for Abu Dhabi. It just meant that I was temporarily in the employ of a foreign government.

Washington attorneys and lobbyists do this kind of thing every day. And more often than not, they don’t register, either because they are too busy, they don’t realize that they have to, or they don’t believe, as in the current case of Washington super lawyer Greg Craig, that they have to. They are very rarely prosecuted.

Anybody can go to the FARA website and do a records search. I did one for the purpose of this article to search for people I know—attorneys, friends, acquaintances—and found many of them taking money from the governments of Libya, Chad, Jordan, Saudi Arabia (lots of them), Greece and other countries. It’s no big deal. It’s just a paperwork exercise.

In the case of Maria Butina, though, the paperwork was the hook to arrest her and to use her failure to register under FARA as leverage to get her to testify about her “work.” The problem, at least for the FBI, was that she wasn’t a spy. As things turned out, she really was just an overly-aggressive Russian grad student at American University who really, really loved guns and was trying to ingratiate herself with the NRA. But the Justice Department came down on her like a ton of bricks, forced her into taking a plea, and sentenced HER to 18 months in a federal prison: for conspiring to fail to fill out a form. The federal sentencing guidelines for a first-time offender violating this law is 0-6 months in a minimum-security work camp and a fine of up to $5,000. That, apparently, was never an option for Butina.

Forgive me if this is burying the lede, but I also want to talk about how Maria Butina got into this predicament in the first place. We know that she was very active in the gun rights movement in both Russia and the U.S. and that she sought to improve contact between gun groups in both countries. We also know that she met and began dating Patrick Byrne, the founder and CEO of We learned recently, thanks to Byrne himself, that he was a longtime FBI source and that the FBI directed him to begin dating Butina. He did so. And he reported back to the FBI that she was simply a graduate student. That wasn’t good enough for the FBI, though and, according to Byrne, he was instructed to go back to Butina, to begin a sexual relationship with her, and to again report back to the FBI. He did that, too.

In the end, the Justice Department accused her publicly of “trading sexual favors” for access, an accusation that prosecutors had to withdraw. It was patently untrue. But that didn’t stop them from accusing her in the press of being a Russian spy, which she was not. And it didn’t stop the judge from giving her three times the maximum sentence called for by the sentencing guidelines.

I will ask your forgiveness again if I sound like a broken record. But this is how the FBI makes their cases. They entrap people. I’ve written extensively about how the FBI brazenly carried out a sting operation against me (unsuccessfully) that could have resulted in an espionage conviction and as much as 30 years in prison. They did the same thing to Butina.

Butina wasn’t committing a crime, so they just made something up, leaked it to the press, allowed it to influence the public and the judge, and hoped she would cave and take a plea. She did. Byrne went on CNN last week to say that two of the three people who instructed him to do all of this were James Comey, Peter Strzok, and another as-yet-unnamed individual. The operation was hatched at the top. The whole story sickens me.

With the deck stacked the way it was, there was probably nothing that Butina or her attorneys could have done to save her. The fix was in. I wish I had been able to convey to her something that one of my attorneys said to me on the day that I finally took a plea to a greatly reduced charge in 2012: “Do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that you think this is about justice. It’s not about justice. It’s about mitigating damage.” Nice system we have.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act — a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

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88 comments for “JOHN KIRIAKOU: In Search of a Russiagate Scalp: The Entrapment of Maria Butina

  1. September 3, 2019 at 00:08

    Who was she trying to influence?

  2. September 2, 2019 at 19:16

    Sorry, but this is also a back-handed attack on the 2nd Amendment. “Civil Wars happen when the victimized are armed. Genocide happens when they are not.” ? A.E. Samaan

  3. John McCarthy
    September 1, 2019 at 16:46

    Jim Comey and Peter Strzok should be prosecuted for Rape

  4. OlyaPola
    September 1, 2019 at 16:06

    “The senior Banana Republic is giving tutorials for the junior ones.”

    Some ocassionally visit theatres to analyse what productions are currently deemed by others to constitute “plausible belief and its quest” to others, and how others perceive “plausible belief and its quest” to be achieved.

    Not everyone is guided by the maxim that “In the presence of striptease the wise watch the audience not the stripper” as you illustrate
    by your sentence ” I belong to those that do not see what she was supposed to report or register” thereby failing to see the possible utilities and purposes of “and its quest”, including but not restricted to the “assignment of significance”.

    That “Banana Republics” engage in “cross-fertilisation” is to be welcomed since such who do not deem themselves to be omniscient are afforded opportunities thereby without undue unpleasant bending or keen-ness.

  5. September 1, 2019 at 07:06

    I’ve never believed a word about the Btina “case.”

    Just the most superficial facts made it ridiculous.

    Suddenly, a foreign student joining the NRA without filling out a form is a crime?

    But is nice to have it so well laid out, as it is here.

    The “case” is just one more piece of evidence about how stark raving mad America’s establishment has become over all things Russian. Chinese, too, of course.

    This really does resemble something from Kafka.

    Or perhaps “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

  6. September 1, 2019 at 06:11

    Please continue to follow up on the comments Patrick Byrne made about blackmailing HRC….this is the key story, and more than likely what got Warren Buffett involved…

  7. August 30, 2019 at 23:13

    This is an argument of the kind “give dog a bad name and hang it”. However well or ill-advised Butina’s view were, they were not the views of Russian government, but private views of her “mentor”. It so happens that citizens of Russian Federation may have private views separate from their party affiliation etc., not unlike USA. No proofs were presented that she was paid from public Russian sources or even private ones. I belong to those that do not see what she was supposed to report or register.

    Similar laws are also used against Americans and their collaborators abroad, but typically less brazenly. But that may change, as American “standards” are keenly watched and copied when convenient for autocratic governments. The senior Banana Republic is giving tutorials for the junior ones.

  8. August 30, 2019 at 12:24

    Thanks John for bring the truth to the light of day.

  9. Sean dolan
    August 30, 2019 at 12:10

    American gov will find a fall guy or gal at any cost to push an agenda

  10. Patricia Victour
    August 30, 2019 at 09:50

    I knew from day one that she was a scapegoat (as was Reality Winner, not to mention Chelsea Manning), just like I knew from day one that the Skripal poisoning was a hoax, as were the chemical attacks supposedly done by Assad in Syria. I recommend reading widely about our ugly historical foreign policy (especially the CIA’s involvement), watching RT and using common sense. Works for me.

    • NYMinuteman
      September 2, 2019 at 09:53

      The Skripal poisonings were no hoax and Assad uses chemical weapons as the back breaker to end resistance when he has the upper hand. These are not western inventions, but the acts of brutal dictators, Putin and Assad.

      The bureaucratic misdeeds of the FBI in their attempts to nail Trump are unrelated and very different than the other two issues, and if you believe RT is a trusted source or Russia a benign player, I suggest, if you do not actually live there already, you move to Syria or Russia and enjoy your remaining days free of our awful republic

      Bon voyage!

      • Skip Scott
        September 5, 2019 at 09:43

        You came to the wrong website if you think anyone here is buying your BS. I suppose you think our nation would be better off without people questioning our government?

        Putin and Assad both enjoy popular support inside their country. That’s just a small matter to the forces of empire.

        I suggest you travel a bit yourself and get a wider perspective of world events.

      • OlyaPola
        September 10, 2019 at 07:24

        “I suggest, if you do not actually live there already, you move to Syria or Russia and enjoy your remaining days free of our awful republic.”

        The opponent’s strategies are often based upon precedent to some degree.

        It is therefore encouraging that this prediliction continues to exist in emulation of the 1620’s and subsequent, which apparently made possible ” of our awful republic” and contingent myths and strategies in facilitation, although I have never been part of this particular “our”.

        Your opponent may not even like apple pie, but rest assured apples in their many guises are available in Russia and Syria besides other places.

  11. lexx
    August 30, 2019 at 07:28

    if i remember correctly they even lied about the plea deal and said that if she took it she would be send back to Russia instead they gave her 18 months

  12. Len
    August 30, 2019 at 01:06

    Clark Shanahan is right we are living in Kaifka world. At least in the West. Full of smoke and mirrors. A ship of fools.

    “When deception plays its role and trust is lost so is the soul” From a poem I wrote on appearance and illusion.

    I just read the article on the treatment of Katherine Gun in Britain and her whistle-blowing to inform us of the US/UK policy [conspiracy] to illegally invade and smash up ancient Iraq on false premises (WMD) – well; the deliberate manipulation of public opinion in imperialist interests. Both Old and new!

    Then I read an interesting article, with a video interview with the psychiatrist Dr Brandy Lee supported by other eminent psychiatrists, on the mental health of Donald Trump, and their conclusion that he was too pathological unstable (insane) to be the President of the United States. He did not meet their 4 criteria for sanity and therefore was irrational and dangerous. Almost self-evident.

    I don’t doubt that Trump is still a little boy that has not grown up; wanting his own way, demanding, self-centered, impetuous, egocentric, prone to tantrums, irrational, ill-informed politically, militarily, historically, philosophically and even economically apart from his obsession with “the deal”. He is dangerous and mislead by flattery by someone more dominant and definitely more insanely diabolical – as it appears to be all megalomaniacs who gravitate to power can be – sadistic; authoritarian; destructive; narcissistic; incapable of feeling, and often, at the same time, masochistic ,wanting to be dominated by other authority figure like Bolton. These same psychiatrists suggesting that this is why Trump likes Putin.?! I suggest readers read Eric Fromm’s “Fear of Freedom”.

    But what disturbed me was the American shrinks’ psycho-analysis agreement on what determines mental stability. Their interpretation of their FOUR criteria for sanity, which to my mind smacks of Kaifa or more correctly Orwellian. Very subtle and sophisticated. I wondered what their conclusions might be if their conclusions was extended to include the state of mental health John Bolton, or Hillary or Madeleine Albright with her “death 500,000 children was worth it”?

    Then I read John Kiriakau’s refreshing contribution on Butina and the Russia-gate fiasco and his attempt to explain the world as it really is. Full of deception. lies, deceit and always in someones interests – Once again: “Who benefits?”

    • Len
      August 30, 2019 at 23:48

      I realize that if you are British or American (USoA) you are not supposed to apologize for anything. But seeing I am neither I would like to apologize to John Kiriakou for not spelling his name correctly, and for a few omissions and grammatical errors. And, of course, I meant: “the death of 500,000 children was worth it!”


  13. August 29, 2019 at 23:23

    I knew that mr brynes was telling the truth and with james comey getting off scott free today it makes me feel affraid not just for me but my kids and my grandchildren whats next socialism?

    • lexx
      August 30, 2019 at 07:09

      poor John You are confusing a fascist police state with socialism

      • Sean dolan
        August 30, 2019 at 12:14

        They fall and in hand

  14. David Otness
    August 29, 2019 at 18:58

    I’ve been following this knowing it was a set-up to keep the “Russia! Russia! Russia!” narrative pot boiling over for purely political ends and to now hear ‘the rest of the story’ and see Boy Scout James Comey right there at the top should not surprise anyone. What are the odds the third sonofabitch in this is “Shifty” Mueller?

    I was listening to a radio program today and the subject was a certain oft-vilified-by-bought-off U.S.-top-bureaucratic-functionaries nation being corrupt and of course despoiled by “oligarchs” who own the government and get laws passed in their own favor, but of course.

    So it was timely to see Eric Zuesse’s article on Jeff Bezos and his fellow $$$$$$$$$$$$$ ilk of only lesser consequence. Our own oligarchs / tycoons put the eastern European ones to shame, they are mere pikers compared to our U.S.-grown, Mom and Apple Pie variety who are first in line for the MIC hand-outs and of course have the ability to stoke and extol their own image via their newspapers like the WaPo and NYT (and even the Intercept) and their multiplicity of TV and radio chains. ‘Good Oligarchs! Bad Oligarchs! Ours are the altruists, but of course.

    And it is they for whom the Brennans, the Boltons, the Clappers, the Comeys, the McCabes, the Muellers and Pompeos work. They know it (well) and a growing number of us are getting the picture too. And they’ll frame anybody, even kill anybody who gets in their way. Or use an Israeli hit squad if necessary.
    Or as in Julian Assage’s case, lock them away and drug them, isolate them in a notorious maximum security prison like Belmarsh, a too-far disproportionality of severity to a crime of being a no-show for an ‘authorities’-set trap and instead seeking asylum as a rightful political refugee from totalitarian forces (like the above list) dedicated to maintaining the neoliberal and neoconservative control that keeps the status quo in control. Ubër alles.

    So they’re slowly killing Julian, far away from the public eye. A U.S. trial could not help but be high profile, and the Owners don’t want that. They know what to do; the public has proven again and again to have the attention span of a gnat, even in the face of what happened to Jeffrey Epstein in a *secure* federal detention facility.
    “Taken off suicide watch” you say….? What did he do, say ‘Scout’s honor?’

    If people cannot by now figure out what a long con has been pulled on us in this country utilizing everything in the shoebox of propaganda from our earliest age… well, I don’t know if for all of our chest-puffing ‘exceptionalism’ (more propaganda skillfully applied by the Brown Bomber) that we can ever walk and stand proudly united ever again.
    To not speak loudly and boldly in this hour of our country’s dire need and yet to call ourselves *free* is long past being both delusional and risible.
    The author of this piece proved an individual CAN and will do it, but how many of you out there are ready and able to stand up to this ongoing repression with journalists all over being carted away for long stints in Stoney Lonesome?
    Especially if associated with Assange, like Suzie Dawson on the run, and Ola Bini, now being detained in Ecuador by that rat bastard Lenin Moreno at the CIA’s behest…?
    Something’s got too give. And I only hope it is not the resolve of those who are aware of the depths of perfidy that pulse through and poison our *self*-government.

    • Stygg
      August 30, 2019 at 14:03

      > more propaganda skillfully applied by the Brown Bomber

      Hey now, leave Joe Louis out of this…

    • Realist
      September 1, 2019 at 01:40

      “If people cannot by now figure out what a long con has been pulled on us in this country utilizing everything in the shoebox of propaganda from our earliest age…”

      Yes, this is a lesson that has been a long time in coming to Americans… 72 years in my case. Well stated, David.

      I could blame my parents’ generation–you know the “greatest” one. My dad, a WWII front-line vet, always defended the official government explanation that justified every conflict our leaders would go out of their way to start, especially the ones in Korea and Nam. He would have nuked Cuba too, to end that confrontation. That’s when American dad’s used Archie Bunker as their primary role model. My mother usually voted for the more photogenic candidate which she interpreted as evidence of honesty and compassion, a trait she probably shared with Edith Bunker. Too bad “Meathead” and his (my) generation grew up to be unwittingly just like ’em, while Gloria perfected that whiny whinging feminist attitude all too prevalent today. My grandfather who was sent to Vladivostok by Uncle Sam to fight the Bolsheviks during WWI had the most realistic attitude, simply proclaiming the quotidian American existence and its governance to be “all bullshit.” I could tell grandpa things haven’t changed enough to require a reassessment of that since he breathed his last in 1978.

  15. cal
    August 29, 2019 at 16:52

    Completely trash Netflix documentary, “The Family”, has a bit about Butina that’s even worse than the mainstream media coverage. She wasn’t just a Russian spy, but linked to some global Evangelical network trying to take over the world. Sadly, her idealism, her sex appeal, and her naive ambition made her a perfect dupe to be made into some Natasha that the McCarthyites of old had dreamt of.

  16. August 29, 2019 at 16:29

    Excellent article.

    There are two other things we need to remember:

    First, Maria Butina was subject to solitary confinement, which is widely considered to be a form of psychological torture.

    As James Bamford recounts in the New Republic (

    “On November 23, 2018, Butina went to sleep on a blue mat atop the gray cement bed in her cell, her 81st day in solitary confinement. Hours later, in the middle of the night, she was awakened and marched to a new cell, 2E05, this one with a solid steel door and no food slot, preventing even the slightest communication. No reason was given, but her case had reached a critical point. Prosecutors were hoping to get her to plead guilty rather than go to trial, and had even agreed to drop the major charge against her: acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia. Born and raised in Siberia, she is terrified of solitary confinement. Fifteen days later, still in solitary, she signed the agreement, pleading guilty to the lesser charge, one count of conspiracy.?”

    Second, Maria Butina’s confession was not only extracted under the extreme pressure of solitary confinement – but it also involved the use of plea-bargaining. Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, and contributor to Consortium News, explains what plea-bargaining really is in an article about Russia-gate: (

    ” It is worth remembering that none of the charges against Americans arising from the Mueller inquiry have anything to do with Russian collusion or Trump-Wikileaks collusion, which simply do not exist. The charges all relate to entirely extraneous matters dug up, under the extraordinary US system of “Justice”, to try to blackmail those charged with unrelated crimes turned up by the investigation, into fabricating evidence of Russian collusion. The official term for this process of blackmail is of course “plea-bargaining.”.””

    In short, the US authorities used torture and blackmail to get a conviction of a young foreign woman who had committed a fairly minor matter regarding not filling out some paperwork.

    As Kiriakou says, “Nice system we have.”

  17. dean 1000
    August 29, 2019 at 13:08

    It’s good to have someone like John Kiriakou in Washington.

    “The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury…” reads article 3(2)(2) of the constitution. The trials of all the whistleblowers who were not convicted by a jury were unconstitutional. Plea bargains are unconstitutional (the trial such as it is) is by prosecutor and judge.

    I think the chairman of the style committee (Gouverneur Morris) inserted the jury requirement into article 3 to placate the members of the constitutional convention who were demanding that a Bill of
    rights be added to the constitution before sending to the state ratification conventions. Jury trial was the ultimate process of law at the time. A bulwark of freedom against state oppression. Members would have undoubtedly invoked the John Peter Zinger trial. There is nothing in the Bill of Rights (added two years later) that conflicts with article 3(2)(2).

    I’m not suggesting jury trials to further gum up an understaffed system. But if the federal rules of procedure required judges to inform juries that they could ignore the law and find the defendant not guilty, (if) they thought justice required it there would be more justice and fewer trials.

    Lawyers are too often reduced to just mitigating the damage. However juries want to do justice and will do so (if) they know they have that option.

    Sad to say Ms Butina would have suffered less had she been beaten with a rubber hose and released.

    BTW was Gouverneur Morris the original Philadelphia lawyer.

    • August 29, 2019 at 19:30

      @ “But if the federal rules of procedure required judges to inform juries that they could ignore the law and find the defendant not guilty, (if) they thought justice required it there would be more justice and fewer trials.”

      Although many states have constitutional provisions requiring that juries determine both the facts and the law, only in Maryland are juries still told that the judge’s explanation of the law is only advisory, that the jury is to determine both fact and law. We will probably not see a reversal of this trend in 0ur lifetimes. To understand why, I recommend reading the case decision that most closely and honestly examines why judges refuse to instruct juries that they are to determine both the facts and the law. United States v. Dougherty, 473 F. 2d 1113 (D.C. Cir. 1972),,38 (“In the last analysis, our rejection of the request for jury nullification doctrine is a recognition that [t]here are times when logic is not the only or even best guide to sound conduct of government”).

      It’s understandable: judges’ egos demand that they appear to be in charge even when they are not.

  18. evelync
    August 29, 2019 at 13:02

    John Kiriakou! Please don’t apologize for providing this public service! I can’t believe that I’m the only person in this country who was suspicious about how Rachel Maddow and the MSM reveled in attacking this woman as though she was a sophisticated spy without an independent assessment of WTF she was guilty of and proof of the same. It seemed to me like a witch hunt based on my own intuition….. And my intuition told me that GWB was using the AUMF to politically trick ambitious Democratic politicians into a compromising position showing their approval of the Iraq War – they were soooooooo dumb, including our top presidential candidates – Clinton, Kerry, Edwards and Biden to be entrapped that way and so immoral too to use War as evidence they were sponge-worthy errrr president-worthy.
    And my intuition told me that General Powell was lying or deluded and being shamelessly used at the U.N. when I watched talk about ridiculous aluminum tubes…what a dupe (sorry)…it ruined his place in history but it also helped the neocons wreak horrific havoc and war crimes too….

    So I was curious. And pleased to read this report about Butina. She got herself caught in a trap and was lucky to pay only the high price and aggravation that she paid. She seemed immature, even vulnerable and foolish too posing with those questionable characters from the U.S. Congress at the gun shows….with their giddy smiles on their faces – irresponsible childish minds at best – corrupt liars at worst.

  19. Pablo Diablo
    August 29, 2019 at 12:18

    THANK YOU John Kiriakou. Always informative.

  20. Mattias Forsgren
    August 29, 2019 at 11:59

    From the article above:
    “…the FBI took Mariia’s laptop and smart phone.
    Her password was the same for both searches.
    The evidence included:
    thumb drives of 102,000 hours of audio
    one and a half million documents seized from two FBI raids on Butina’s apartment
    50-hours of testimony to the FBI and Congress
    appointment calendars
    and other files found in packed boxes
    The FBI never filed an inventory of evidence in Mariia’s case.

    Some sources say 14 terabytes of audio was seized by the FBI
    By the time Butina was sentenced, court records said it was six terabytes.
    A single terabyte can hold 85,899,345 pages documents or 17,000 hours of audio.
    What happened to the rest?
    Or lost?
    How many thumb drives did the FBI take from Butina
    How many hours of audio were on those thumb drives?
    What were they about?
    How were they collected?
    Who made the audio?
    Whose voices were on tape?
    When did they start?
    How many appointments, dinners, and meeting were on how many thumb drives?
    Who were they with? Where? When?
    Neither the Judge or defense attorneys asked.”

    • Annie
      August 29, 2019 at 14:58

      The laptops.

      Your questions resonate not so much with the invented case of the miserable Butina but with Awan affair — the longitudinal operation of a profiteering family that had access to the highly classified information on the Congresspeople’ computers (plural). Where are Awans and their bestest protector Debbie Wasserman? Why she is not in a federal prison?

      There is also a curious case of Dm. Alperovitch (CrowdStrike) and his unique access to Clinton’s computers (the FBI was not allowed to examine the computers). Alperovitch, a Jewish emigre from the former USSR, was caught on fraud by the best among the American intelligence community. Why Alperovitch is not in jail?

      Jeff Epstein’ connections to the wealthy and powerful should have been registered on his computers, yet we hear no revelations. Mr. Epstein is suspected of links to foreign intelligence services. This certainly should be of interest for NSA, considering Epstein’s personal connections the wealthy and powerful and his blackmailing business.

      • Mattias Forsgren
        August 30, 2019 at 16:00

        I agree with all you wright, but still that does not mean that Mariia Butina was not part of a spy operation.

    • jaycee
      August 29, 2019 at 15:38

      Do you actually believe Marina Butina was responsible for recording 102,000 hours of audio? That means recording 24 hours a day for nearly twelve years.

      • Mattias Forsgren
        August 30, 2019 at 15:58

        No, I do not think that. Not at all.

  21. Mattias Forsgren
    August 29, 2019 at 11:38

    Well I don’t know about that… She sure seems to be a spy, the question is whose spy.
    “Rockefeller heir, George O’Neill Jr. to be indicted next month based on Butina’s 50-hours of FBI testimony, 1.5 million documents, and 102,000 hours of audio.”

  22. Realist
    August 29, 2019 at 09:11

    If just plain folks so callously abused other people and caused them to be severely punished like this innocent woman has been just to advance their own causes or careers, the conniving hypocritical American media would pursue and condemn them for being irrefutable exemplars of mean and evil villains. What Comey, Strzok and Byrne did to this young lady is nearly up there with the abuse that Jeffrey Epstein heaped upon his victims (perhaps not as degrading but certainly longer lasting), but the filth in the American media, who weren’t born yesterday and can rationally assess the consequences of their actions, invariably choose to aid and abet criminal activity by their government actors rather than trying to uphold justice. Everyone in any position of power or influence in this country seems ready and willing to screw over the next guy or gal just to advance the agenda of the elite insiders to whom they have sold their souls. That certainly includes all the overpaid media dreck, “law” enforcement, most of the sitting judges and other officers of the court and most every politician including those who use 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as their temporary home address.

    America needs a quick rewrite of its national platitudes from “In God we trust” or “with liberty and justice for all” to that much more appropriate verse from Orwell’s signature work: “Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me.” America purposefully chooses to pursue all of its public goals and policies using the tools of deception, betrayal, public humiliation, financial ruination and onerous incarceration, but, as John Kiriakou never fails to emphasize, directed mainly at the hapless, and usually honest, citizen rather than the genuine criminals dispensing this perversion of “justice.”

    Watching for an entire lifetime of how Washington gangs up on the few honest and innocent truthtellers to protect the guilty makes my blood boil. And, yes, there is no question in my mind that they go so far as to kill some of their quarry (like Epstein) and frame someone else for these monstrous acts. Minions like Comey, Brennan and Clapper always have a fall guy ready to pin the blame on. Manning, Snowden and Assange outed government killers to protect this country’s people and its pretensions to ethics and morality, yet they are the ones our “justice” system seeks to destroy.

  23. Tony
    August 29, 2019 at 08:56

    The law was certainly not enforced when Hill and Knowlton were promoting Gulf War 1 on behalf of the government of Kuwait:

  24. AnneR
    August 29, 2019 at 08:48

    Thank you Mr Kiriakou for this overview of the Butina case. It always felt trumped up and an injustice – and clearly was both.

    If the FBI et al can cook up something out of nothing over a student of Russian nationality with an overweening (in my opinion) love of guns, a young woman who wanted to install something akin to the NRA in her native land, then Julian Assange is truly done for.

    And Mr Assange is already in a bad way (deliberately induced by the UK and US governments and their employees). According to John Pilger (a real journalist whose work I remember from the Vietnam War days) Assange has lost more weight, is kept in solitary confinement, has little opportunity for genuine exercise and, despite his parents being “granted” apparent permission to speak to him via phone, he has not actually been allowed even telephonic access to them. This all amounts to deliberate psychological torture with perhaps the intended end being his suicide. After all, if he killed himself, then there would be *no* chance that any of the truth regarding the stitch up itself or the DNC emails or anything else that the UK-US doesn’t want out in the open being revealed.

    Meanwhile, we are subjected to non-stop anti-Russia/China/Iran prattle – today for instance something “shock, horror” at opposition “activists” being detained/imprisoned in Russia. All in the tone: “well, what else can you expect from this Putin-dictatorship?”

    But we *never* hear a word of criticism on either the BBC or NPR about US prisons, about the treatment of US prisoners – nothing. Silence.

  25. August 29, 2019 at 08:14

    The FBI and the DOJ aren’t law enforcement agencies, they’re extortion rackets interested only in making themselves look good to the public in order to cover up their past disasterous mistakes, e.g., 911, Parkland, etc. etc.

  26. michael
    August 29, 2019 at 06:54

    Russians are the only ethnic / racial group that can be harassed, publicly spit upon, scapegoated without debate and largely unaided by those who know better (the “sympathizers” to the bogeyman!) Given the Clintons’ history, is it really surprising that they could use Hillary’s loss to demonize Russians and re-ignite the Cold War? Just imagine what would have happened with the reins of power in her hands.
    Good that Kiriakou brought up Greg Craig, who worked closely alongside the Podesta Group with Manafort and Gates in The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Mueller evidently let the Podestas register retroactively as foreign agents; they were probably important Intelligence assets like Epstein. We have ‘connected’ Establishment politicians and Intelligence agents who are above the Law, and we have the rest of us who can only squawk at their actions (and the US Stasi will soon put an end to that as well). Maybe we need 17 more Intelligence Agencies since the ones we have are clearly out of control and report to no one outside their organizations. Looking back, J. Edgar Hoover was not so bad.

    • Abby
      August 29, 2019 at 18:28

      True. Can you imagine the outrage if what was said about Russia these last two years was directed at Israel instead? Which would be appropriate since Israel does interfere with our elections more than any country.

  27. August 29, 2019 at 06:45

    Something that should be more widely and loudly discussed. A pity it gets almost zero attention in the rest of the media.

  28. August 29, 2019 at 06:31

    Why, oh why, did Maria Butina believe the US was the place to come? Young and naive, now she knows better. All while Israel continues their mendacious Zionist influence daily, for years. Americans, please awaken from slumber!

    • lexx
      August 30, 2019 at 07:19

      Why, oh why, did Maria Butina believe the US was the place to come?

      hollywood propaganda

    • Zhu
      August 31, 2019 at 07:01

      Why, Jessuka? Probably misled by Hollywood mivies.

  29. bob
    August 29, 2019 at 06:24

    maybe this should be posted at the head of any debate about america – “If you want a really scary thought, imagine how stupid the average American is. Then realize…half of ’em are dumber than THAT.” – George Carlin

    america is the planet’s most major problem – forget russiagate, forget climate change, forget everything else – deal with america and ‘problems’ will disappear

  30. August 29, 2019 at 05:50

    EXCELLENT reporting, John! The corruption of our government is as breathtaking as it is pervasive . . . Despair is now our national norm.

  31. Zhu
    August 29, 2019 at 05:06

    The glee ome lefties (the Churh of Hillary, Fundamentalist) showed at Butina’s conviction was shameful.

  32. David G
    August 29, 2019 at 05:06

    “Forgive me if this is burying the lede …”

    Not only did John Kiriakou indeed bury the lede (the involvement of Patrick Byrne and the FBI), but he buried it under a factual error.

    None of these FARA registration details are directly relevant to the Maria Butina case, since she was not indicted under FARA (22 U.S.C. Sec. 611 et seq.), but under a completely different statute (18 U.S.C. Sec. 951), with different criminal elements and a separate procedure for notifying the Justice Dept. of one’s activities as an agent of a foreign government.

    • incontinent reader
      August 29, 2019 at 16:23

      Whether or not FARA or 18 USC Sec 951 was the basis of the indictment, and notwithstanding her guilty plea, we are still waiting for proof that Maria Butina was an agent of a foreign government, though there is clear evidence that she was surveilled by FBI through an asset, Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock,com, to determine the existence of a connection with the Russian government and Russiagate, and there is clear evidence from the asset that he had informed the Bureau that it was his considered opinion that Butina WAS NOT a Russian agent. There is also proof and confirmation that the Bureau not only did not inform or provide that information to the defense- but also lied about it. And that had that information been available at trial it would have eviscerated the Bureau’s manufactured Russiagate claim that she was a Russian agent. See, for example, [including Coleen Rowley’s podcast comments about the FBI’s practice] AND, see

      Welcome to COINTELPRO redux.

      • David G
        August 31, 2019 at 04:42

        “… we are still waiting for proof that Maria Butina was an agent of a foreign government …”

        You’ll have a long wait: she obviously wasn’t.

  33. August 29, 2019 at 04:02

    We can all disapprove of the treatment she got from the US justice and intelligence branches……. but that doesn’t make lobbying for free carriage of firearms and heavy weaponry in Russia and in the USA a ‘just’ cause.

    • August 30, 2019 at 22:58

      This is an argument of the kind “give dog a bad name and hang it”. However well or ill-advised Butina’s view were, they were not the views of Russian government, but private views of her “mentor”. It so happens that citizens of Russian Federation may have private views separate from their party affiliation etc., not unlike USA. No proofs were presented that she was paid from public Russian sources or even private ones. I belong to those that do not see what she was supposed to report or register.

      Similar laws are also used against Americans and their collaborators abroad, but typically less brazenly. But that may change, as American “standards” are keenly watched and copied when convenient for autocratic governments. The senior Banana Republic is giving tutorials for the junior ones.

  34. jmg
    August 29, 2019 at 03:04

    “‘As time passed, Byrne became more and more convinced that Maria was what she said she was—an inquisitive student in favor of better U.S.-Russian relations—and not an agent of the Russian government or someone involved in espionage or illegal activities,’ the letter states. ‘He states he conveyed these thoughts and the corroborating facts and observations about Maria to the government.’”

    Lawyer for accused Russian agent Maria Butina alleges prosecutorial misconduct, reveals relationship with CEO

  35. Zhu
    August 29, 2019 at 01:33

    “It’s about mitigating dam ge.” Sounds like a trial in China.

  36. Zhu
    August 29, 2019 at 01:28

    I always suspected charges against Ms Butina were nonsense. I suppose her trial and time in prison were educarional, in a bad way.

    • August 29, 2019 at 08:12

      If you believe any of this chit, you need to take your traitorous scum Ash to Russia there’s no place in America for people that stupid.

      • Ash
        August 29, 2019 at 16:32

        There’s always elected office.

  37. Michael Crockett
    August 29, 2019 at 01:11

    Prosecutors routinely coerce plea agreements against defendants in both federal and state courts. The due process which is afforded in our Constitution has become a high risk option. If you are poor and a person of color, you are fully aware that the odds of proving your not guilty are slim. Even though you have not committed any crimes whatsoever. Prosecutors, police, federal agents and investigators are able and willing to manufacture a case against someone to get a conviction. Better to plea to a lesser charge and get eighteen months than go to trial and be found guilty and get sentenced to ten years.

    • August 29, 2019 at 12:27

      Mr Crockett, are you a carpenter? You certainly his THIS NAIL on the head. Plea Bargaining versus not having enough money for the alternative. They have you over a barrel because persecutors are state funded and ‘you’ are not. Land of the Free (who can afford justice) and home of the brave who face this system so too often while ‘everybody’ doesn’t understand.

  38. LarcoMarco
    August 29, 2019 at 00:47

    The cynic within me wants to speculate that James Comey ordered Lisa Page to have an affair with Peter Stroke, because the latter disparaged Mueller’s Russiagate investigation when he said, “There’s no there there.”

    • Zhu
      August 29, 2019 at 04:47

      Not everything is planned ahead by a third party. Sometimes people f**k cuz they want to.

  39. August 28, 2019 at 22:48

    Thanks for all of your courage and sacrifice John. This was a very clarifying article. Aaron Mate has also done prodigious work in this regard of the debunking this tawdry spectacle known as Russiagate.

  40. Fran Macadam
    August 28, 2019 at 22:41

    Well at least she wasn’t suicided, as yet. That’s damage mitigation, too.

  41. nwwoods
    August 28, 2019 at 22:22

    Truly a sickening tale, especially considering the whole “Russia ate Hillary’s presidency” was/is an outright hoax, as is the Bill Browder- Magnitsky fairy tale that was the impetus for the odious Magnitsky Act.

  42. August 28, 2019 at 21:33

    Sounds familiar. The FBI did the same thing to Michael Flynn since they didn’t want the incoming Trump administration to improve relationship with Russia.

  43. Evangelista
    August 28, 2019 at 20:48

    ” “Do you know what your problem is? Your problem is[?]”” “[T]hat you think [it] is about justice.””
    It’s not about justice.””

    It is, in all such cases, about Injustice.

    If you plea-deal you plea-deal to save yourself discomfort and inconvenience.

    “”It [plea-dealing] ’s about mitigating damage.” ”

    Not for you. For you to mitigate damage when you are made a star in a perpetuation of injustice you have to deliver all your property and responsibilities to someone you trust (or believe you can trust) and accept your being drafted to engage in combat against the perpetrated injustice. There is nothing else you can do, except capitulate and ‘go along’. Plea-deal. Tell them they are right even though they are wrong, ‘confess’ you done whatever they have imagined, or scripted you into, and hope they like your performance enough they go easy on you.

    Thus, it is for Them that your plea-dealing is “”about mitigating damage””.

    My recommendation is to always accept the inconvenience. To refuse to plea-deal. To not help them out at all.

    I recommend that If you have lawyers, who are “costing you” and you can’t afford, tell them to work for the cause or get off the case.

    I don’t more than recommend, because every instance is individual and not everyone has the ability to carry through. Especially in every instance. Consider the case of Giles Corey, for instance. And, less discomfiting than his, the cases of the other seventeen of the Salem Witch-Girls Accused, who did not plea-deal. Who did not ‘confess’ to having whisped out key-holes as smoke and flown on brooms to dance with devils and neighbours, additionally accused.

    The Salem Witch Trials debacle is a classic case. But it is not a different kind of case. It illustrates the same kind of accusers, the same kind of accusations, the same kind of prosecuting machinery, the same kind of adjudicative predilections, prejudices and incapacities.

    The Mariia Butina case is noteworthy, and should be famous for one thing most especially: It is the case where when the judge was presented with an air-tight and water-tight pleading for bail or recognizance, instead of incarceration during innocence, prior to trial, answered, “I don’t have a precedent.” Providing that as a reason to not render a judgment on the pleading. A judge who could not make a judgment because no one had given her instructions. No one had told her what to do. It said all that need be said about the Current United States’ “judicial system”, and Current United States “Justice”. And the purpose of the said system.

    Eliciting that confession from an American Judiciary Jackass was a victory for Ms. Butina and her lawyers, as was her, and heir, standing against the system for as long as they did and continued to do so. As long as they did and continued to do so the judiciary system, and all its mechanical parts looked, and showed out, the asses they are, and showed more and more and more, until they received the blesséd relief of Ms. Butina throwing in her sponge.

    I was disappointed, but I do not criticize her decision, since for each person in each case the situation is different, and tolerance for abuse is different for each one. (and she was obviously new to the experience, and more than a little mystified).

    My disappointment is that the law and the system escaped having to explain themselves, and inform us exactly how a Russian woman ‘infiltrating’ an American gun-owners association of long standing and organizational experience, with an openly confessed intent to take information gleaned from the American association’s organizational methods back to Russia, to attempt to there emulate the American association’s success, could be construed to ‘threaten’ the Current United States’ ‘security’. How what the woman was doing could constitute ‘spying’. What grounds could the government of the Current United States have to fear a Russian woman advocating for an armed Russian population? What reason could Current United States ‘Decision-makers’ give to he United States Public for caring in Russia has an armed population?

    The only reason I am able to imagine for Current United States Officialdom giving a damn at all about Russia developing a freely armed population, and considering encouraging such an “UnAmerican Activity” would be that Officialdom having intention to, and plan to, invade Russia (again). In this case, if this surmise is true, then Ms. Butina, by triggering the paranoia and nervous hysterical reaction her activities did, most certainly — well, we can’t say let the cat out of the bag, since she appears to have only trod a corner of the bag, in which, it would seem the cat’s tail was reposing, which sent the cat squalling and hissing and clawing its own way out, to expose its own unsavory cat box full of plans.

    • Sam F
      August 29, 2019 at 12:21

      My guess would be that the US oligarchy and its fake judiciary fear the gun-owners alone, and feared the Russia connection.
      They are traitors in systematically subverting the US Constitution for any personal or party purpose, involving such fears.
      Probably the FBI and HSI heavily infiltrate the NRA to detect any plan of rebellion to restore democracy.
      The US left is easily fooled to think that an armed populace is a threat rather than a means to better government.
      The people need not often actually use arms in rebellion, as their presence cows the aggressive oligarchs.

  44. mike k
    August 28, 2019 at 19:30

    I guess I am on the wrong side of your censorship. My comments are no longer published. No one from your site has ever told me why I am banned.

    • Joe Lauria
      August 28, 2019 at 23:33

      Three minutes after you posted your comment it appeared. Within that three minutes you accused this publication of one of the most serious charges one can make: censorship. You comment saying you were banned appeared. How could that happen if you were banned? Think about that.

      • David G
        August 29, 2019 at 05:20

        My comment under Ray McGovern’s Aug. 12 piece, in which I responded with less than abject agreement to your reply (and editing of the article in response) to an initial comment by me was never published, despite being in no way in violation of CN commenting guidelines. Why?

      • klavith
        August 29, 2019 at 10:07

        Hi Joe,

        Might i suggest that this problem, which appears regularly in comments, might be mitigated by a one-sentence disclaimer above the comment box, such as: “It might take a few minutes for your comment to appear due to review for spam.”

    • Sam F
      August 29, 2019 at 12:08

      I don’t think you were actually banned, mike. I have had the same feeling several times as the comment moderation means have changed. So I expect comments to appear after hours, or overnight if made in the evening. It is good to see you here again. Cheers!

        August 29, 2019 at 14:00

        There is such a sentence under this article. The comment moderation means have not changed since Bob Parry instituted it several years ago. This has been state repeatedly. We do not have 24/7 comment moderation. Some comments that are automatically pulled out, if over the weekend or overnight, could take several hours to be reviewed.

        August 29, 2019 at 14:02

        David G…your comment appeared on McGovern’s Aug. 12 story.

        David G
        August 13, 2019 at 12:50 (edit)
        “Many, including me, suspect that Rich played some role in the leaking of DNC emails to WikiLeaks. There is considerable circumstantial evidence that this may have been the case.”

        If Ray McGovern could direct me to a presentation of that evidence I’d be appreciative. I honestly don’t know what it is.

      • Skip Scott
        August 29, 2019 at 16:56

        “The comment moderation means have not changed since Bob Parry instituted it several years ago. This has been state repeatedly.”

        Just because it has been stated repeatedly does not make it true. Comments used to usually post immediately, or the commenter was notified it was awaiting moderation. Also there was a 5 minute editing window for your comment that became available if you reloaded the page. This is no longer the case. Just sayin’…

  45. mike k
    August 28, 2019 at 19:27

    My dear fellow Americans, your government is a criminal gang from top to bottom. If you think they care one whit for justice and truth, then you are completely deluded. Wake up to reality!

    • Sam F
      August 30, 2019 at 19:36

      Very true, and many wake-up calls are needed, although most will dream on until they bump into the reality.

  46. Abe
    August 28, 2019 at 19:26

    Speaking of “trading sexual favors”, the FBI was ready to prove the collusion theory of “Israelgate” by waterboarding Jeffrey Epstein. James Comey had signed off on it and everything.

    Oh well. Butina.

  47. Ma Laoshi
    August 28, 2019 at 18:47

    So Mr. Kiriakou, when you wrote those op-eds, did you declare in them that they were written in the employ of Abu Dhabi? Or did you pass of your paid advocacy as if it were your own opinion? Far from being “no big deal”, the latter would be deliberately misinforming the audience. “Everyone does it” just means that the entire system (of which you are or were a part) is rotten.

  48. countykerry
    August 28, 2019 at 18:22

    Has the US ever apologized to Putin and the Russian people for nearly 3 years of slander ?

    The DNC, the various congressional committees, the Washington Post, the NY Times ?

    Somehow I doubt Ms. Butina would even expect one, what a sorry aberration we have become.

    • Curious
      August 28, 2019 at 23:45


      The US NEVER apologizes.

      • countykerry
        August 29, 2019 at 04:09

        Roger that !

    • Zhu
      August 29, 2019 at 04:53

      Of coutse not! That mrsn admitting they’d done something wrong! Usually, US politicians and partisan types pretrnd to be more flawless than Jesus.

  49. August 28, 2019 at 17:34

    Nice one John.

    What happened to Butina is more of the excesses of Russia Gate. Which both the MSM and the (so called) liberal blogosphere allowed to mushroom out of control. Bob Parry had this diagnosed at the start.

  50. Sam F
    August 28, 2019 at 17:29

    The People should think seriously about that lawyer’s advice (which my long legal experience verifies) about our judiciary and DOJ:

    “Do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that you think this is about justice. It’s not about justice.”

    The DOJ and judiciary are the operatives of a foreign power, the power of money in our formerly democratic institutions. So are our uniformly corrupt Congress, MIC, state governments, and mass media. Liberty and justice for gangsters. Those who cannot accept that are without experience and will be angry when they learn how completely deluded they have been. But they hide from the truth.

  51. Jeff Harrison
    August 28, 2019 at 17:16

    It is, in fact, disgusting. The problem I have is that the United States is at least as bad or worse than the countries we routinely criticize. It takes a lotta damn gall for the country that has the greatest percentage of its population behind bars to lecture other countries about how to run their societies.

    • Clark M Shanahan
      August 28, 2019 at 21:13

      She got the Kafka treatment, really disturbing.
      If there was a defense fund for her, I would be happy to contribute,

      • incontinent reader
        August 29, 2019 at 02:10

        Clark – I recall that months ago there was a defense fund set up for Maria Butina – at the time I contributed a small sum to it, though I can’t remember the URL, but, if it was, that domain is presently listed as having expired on 8/17/19, and pending renewal or deletion.

        I assume the best way today for people to contribute would be through her attorney Robert Driscoll. I believe his contact information is at: So just make the call to his office.

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