Russia is buying politicians in Europe. Is it happening here too?

Russia is buying politicians in Europe. Is it happening here too?

Alex Finley writes:

Democrats for years have warned about Russian influence in the Republican Party under Donald Trump. But now even some prominent GOP members of Congress are sounding the alarm.

“I think Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it’s infected a good chunk of my party’s base,” Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Puck’s Julia Ioffe last week. Representative Mike Turner, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, went further, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper a few days later, “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor.”

Which Republicans might they be referring to? Representative Ken Buck didn’t hesitate to point a finger at Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying on Monday, “Moscow Marjorie is focused now on this Ukraine issue and getting her talking points from the Kremlin and making sure that she is popular and she is getting a lot of coverage.”

They’re saying aloud what they once whispered behind closed doors. Back in 2016, when he was a Republican congressman but not yet House speaker, Kevin McCarthy said in a private meeting with GOP leaders, “There’s two people, I think, Putin pays: [Representative Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump … swear to God.” (Rohrabacher, once dubbed “Putin’s favorite congressman,” lost his seat in 2018.)

McCarthy, confronted with the leaked audio in 2017, claimed it was a joke. But anyone paying attention to how Russian intelligence services run influence operations—which I do, as a former CIA officer—knows it is anything but. It raises a legitimate, and deadly serious, question: Have Russian operatives paid any Republican officials? [Continue reading…]

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