Below are comments Stern made directly related to this issues above. Also below is the video of the entire interview involving Trump-Russia. The excerpt discussing Butina begins at the 36:19 mark on the video.
Referring to Russia and guns, Stern and others are claiming that guns was just an entry point into Republican mindset. He said, “the Russians don't like gun rights there. Gun rights are for people with badges, if you have a gun in Russia you're a member of the military intelligence or police” .... She linked up with Alexander Torshin and they petitioned the Russian legislature to expand gun rights....”
Stern said that he believes that this operation was approved by the top of the Russian government as “Putin approves everything”.
He believes the focus was upon the NRA and the Republicans as some commentators believe that organization has become a strong Republican base.
"So the very idea on its face that what the people were doing was legitimate, only struck people who are Republicans, because anybody who is a Democrat or knew anything about Russia, if you just knew even the first thing about Russia, you would have said this is nuts.
Was the focus about increasing guns in Russia or was there a more American-political motivation behind her actions?
Stern said, “Russia doesn't want more gun rights. In fact, I've seen the television interviews on Russian state-run TV where he's pressing the case for that and the broadcaster's so that's a crazy idea, if you can't get more guns to Russian people will all killing each other"
“If you're Russian and you're trying to attack America, wouldn't you do it by just trying to get more guns in more people's hands, well that's what they did".
He feels that the purpose was "promoting extremism in America is exactly Russian's strategy, to attack our democracy because extremists tend to be very anti-democratic, on both sides are left and right"
"She was indicted for being a Russian spy, being a political agent for a foreign nation in America, without registering first with the Attorney General is a crime. And she conspired to do it with others, she's facing 15 years. What she did was she wormed her way into the NRA, right"
The role of a foreign agent is often to get information from the hosting country. Butina’s involvement appeared to go further. Stern said, "and this is a way of the Russians getting intelligence, but based on all of the things that I've read she didn't just gather intelligence, she was also directing money, resources. She was, she was providing something of value for the members of the NRA that they were using politically. And that's also it's illegal to accept anything of value in a federal campaign from a foreign person or foreign government. So you know, she could have registered as a foreign lobbyist, and then you know what would happened? Well the FBI would had known about had known about her"
"Somebody from the FBI might have listed the phone and called up the head of the NRA and said ‘do you know that you have a registered Russian agent moving around inside all the meeting?’. They might have said ‘mm-hmm this could be a problem’ so he didn't so that's why she's been arrested."
Stern sees a connection between Putin, Torshin, the NRA and the Republican Party. He said, “The NRA was a single largest pro-Trump group. I'm gonna publish the first chapter of my series-- the Grand Old Putin Party story-
- so that our watchers and listeners can check that out too because it actually gets into that. I wrote about this, last year. I didn't, I don't think I really spotlighted Butina last year, because she was important, but she wasn't as important as like Torshin, for example, uh maybe I did.
"I just said even the NRA suddenly changed into a pro Putin party--"with love from Russia's fake NRA"
The writer said that one of the reasons that this indictment could be more far reaching is that the claim is that Putin approved of a pro-NRA plan using Butina so that Russian money could be sent to the NRA which would help out Republicans and possibly Trump and would help make the Trump administration and the GOP more Russia-friendly.
Stern believes the indictment “says it is that they had a back channel for communications to campaigns to candidates through the NRA. And why is that important? I mean have you noticed that everything that they're doing is to set up communications back channels?
The legal implications are "by the law outside expenditure groups are not allowed to coordinated with campaigns". He said, "so her mere presence as a communicator would have been a great assistance to violate federal campaign laws, which is to say—‘I'm going to talk to you, you talk to them. Except she was acting as the man in the middle so to speak for a Russian, for a foreign government.