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Valuable Commentary on National Prayer Breakfast and Treasonous Behavior of GOP Leaders: "#Nationalprayerbreakfast Is All Over the Affidavit for Russian Spy Maria Butina"

Posted on the 19 July 2018 by William Lindsey @wdlindsy
If you want to understand the Russian connection to U.S. right-wing white evangelicals — who are absolutely on board with treason to achieve their goals — you owe it to yourself to read @C_Stroop and @JeffSharlet. No one knows more about this than these two scholars.— 𝚆𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚒𝚊𝚖 𝙳. 𝙻𝚒𝚗𝚍𝚜𝚎𝚢 (@wdlindsy) July 17, 2018

I'm pleased to see that the important thread I identified three days ago in the unfolding story of the treasonous activities of top Republican leaders — the centrality of the National "Prayer" Breakfast to the story — is receiving a lot of media attention. Here's commentary I'd like to share with you:
Katherine Stewart, "What Was Maria Butina Doing at the National Prayer Breakfast?":
In the run-up to the 2016 election, the passion for Russian values among America's religious extremists grew still more ardent. In 2013, Bryan Fischer, then a spokesman for the American Family Association, called Mr. Putin a "lion of Christianity." In 2014, Franklin Graham — the politically influential evangelist and vocal Trump supporter — defended Mr. Putin for his efforts "to protect his nation's children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda," even as he lamented that Americans have "abdicated our moral leadership." In December 2015, Mr. Graham met privately with Mr. Putin for 45 minutes. 
Although the religious right's affection for Mr. Putin appears to center on a shared disgust with "the homosexual agenda" and other so-called family issues, it is impossible to overlook the attraction that the Russian leader's authoritarian style has for his American admirers. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mike Pence hailed Mr. Putin as "a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country."

I missed this yesterday, but, um, the Russian arrested by the DoJ apparently straight-up wanted to use the National Prayer Breakfast as a way to “establish a back channel of communication.” pic.twitter.com/wJsFNQAX7I— Jack Jenkins (@jackmjenkins) July 17, 2018

Sarah Burris,"Here's How Right-Wing Christians' National Prayer Breakfast is Connected to the Recent Indictment of An Alleged Russian Spy," quoting Jeff Sharlet:
What people don't understand about the National Prayer Breakfast, is it's not a government event," Sharlet explained. "It's run by a private, sectarian, fundamentalist organiz[ation] called The Fellowship and The Family that believes in precisely this kind of action. In fact, the long-time leader of the organization has called it quiet diplomacy, back channel, back door interactions between international leaders, that they use the prayer breakfast to bring them together. As recently as a year ago, the current leader, Doug Burleigh, was predicting alliance between [President Donald] Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. He predicted that that at a Russian prayer breakfast."

Did #mariabutina work through The Family's National Prayer Breakfast only in D.C.? No -- they went to her in Moscow, actively cultivating a relationship with these spies. As I write in THE FAMILY, this is an international movement. pic.twitter.com/VxLVIK007j— Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) July 17, 2018

Isaac Chotiner, "The Most Explosive Revelation From the Charges Against Mariia Butina," interviewing Renato Mariotti, who makes the following statements: 
[There is] one paragraph [in the indictment against her[ about her being involved in securing a very private line of communication between the Kremlin and the GOP through the NRA. That's pretty explosive. It is very interesting that once Trump is elected, she suddenly adds, to a National Prayer Breakfast organizer, that she had "important information for you to further this new relationship." What is the information that she is conveying to this person? What's interesting and missing from here is what, if anything, the Americans are saying about their contacts with her. You certainly can understand now why the NRA has criminal counsel. You have to imagine that the National Prayer Breakfast folks have their own counsel as well. This could be the beginning of an investigation that could ensnare Americans.

Ms. Butina and Mr. Torshin attended several events hosted by groups affiliated with Republicans, including 2 National Prayer Breakfasts in 2016 & 2017. In 1 email, Ms. Butina wrote that Mr. Torshin suggested that Mr. Putin attend when Trump was speaking. https://t.co/qykTSaEFLP— John Hergt (@natureofthings7) July 17, 2018

Tara Isabella Burton, "How the National Prayer Breakfast plays into the indictment of an alleged Russian spy," interviewing Jeff Sharlet, who makes the following statements: 
The Family uses it [the National "Prayer" Breakfast] as the centerpiece — the one public event they do in the year. But it's only one-tenth of 1 percent of the iceberg [of their work]. As they describe it, it is a recruiting device to bring those whom they are interested in into what they describe as prayer cells, where they meet. And I’m quoting here [from Family documents]: where "you meet Jesus, man to man." Meanwhile, around the prayer breakfast — which is just one event on the first Thursday of February — is a week-long lobbying festival. 
You get the oil industry hosting events. You get defense contractors hosting events. So you look at the list of foreign leaders who are coming again and again from around the world. They're there for access to American power; they're there to cut deals. 
Michael Cromartie, a longtime conservative religious leader in Washington and no lefty, was critical of their lack of transparency. He says, "Look, I'm sure people use this to gain entrée. And entrée they do get." 
[Another source says] the National Prayer Breakfast is used by the Family to circumvent the State Department. They are arranging meetings with a real who's who of nasty figures — the kind of government leaders from foreign nations who might not otherwise have access to American power but [who] the Family, in pursuit of their strongman vision of Jesus, thinks are actually anointed by God for leadership.

The #nationalprayerbreakfast is all over the affidavit for Russian spy Maria Butina. I wrote two books, THE FAMILY & C STREET, about its organizers, the most influential - & secretive - Christian conservative group in DC, known as The Fellowship & internally as The Family.— Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) July 17, 2018

Thread. The Family & the vampiric religion of the prayer breakfast are creepy af.
Even if you're accepting that & imagining a Very, Very Creepy bunch with a skin-crawlingly creepy religious outlook, you're still underestimating the creepy-factor by several orders of magnitude. https://t.co/MyYcmNPkDt— Fred Clark (@SlacktivistFred) July 17, 2018

Jack Jenkins, "Why Mariia Butina wasn’t the only Russian attending the National Prayer Breakfast":  

According to the affidavit, Butina intended to use the 2017 prayer breakfast as a way to gather a group of influential Russians in the U.S. to "establish a back channel of communication” with Americans. She allegedly described the list of Russian attendees to the prayer breakfast as “populated by important political advisors to Russian President (Vladimir) Putin, university presidents, mayors, and substantial private businessmen." 
She also reportedly discussed with a colleague the possibility of bringing Putin to meet President Trump at the event, although that meeting did not ultimately occur. 
Using a religious event to broker unsanctioned political communication may seem like an unorthodox ploy. But evidence suggests sustained links between Russian officials and the National Prayer Breakfast that potentially opened the gathering up to exploitation.

I think liberals and (especially) Russia hawk conservatives should think harder about the real coherence of the pro-Russia, anti-EU worldview from the standpoint of solidaristic white nationalism.— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 16, 2018

1. Some of us, have been talking about this for quite some time. A brief history of the idea of an American/Russian alliance to preserve global white supremacy. https://t.co/1Bdi2kNW63— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) July 16, 2018

Sarah K. Burris, "Congressman reveals GOP members refused to allow Dems to question Russian ‘spy’ Maria Butina and 30 other witnesses": 
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) revealed Tuesday that Republicans shut down any demands by Democrats to question Maria Butina, who was indicted Tuesday by federal prosecutors.

1. From the 1990s this same affinity for Russia that @HeerJeet tracks among overt racists ramped up among the Christian Right in conjunction with a shared “traditional values” agenda. That strain of Christian admiration for Russian conservatives can also be traced back further. https://t.co/Sd6vEH3tY4— Christopher Stroop (@C_Stroop) July 17, 2018

7. This is also why simply impeaching Trump will not solve our problems. Large swaths of the white American population are genuinely anti-democratic. Some focus on “family values,” others on race, but all uphold white supremacist patriarchy. And they own the radicalized @GOP.— Christopher Stroop (@C_Stroop) July 17, 2018

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