Sheriff Clarke, just nominated for DHS, was in Moscow last December at the same time Michael Flynn dined w/Putin. Clarke went with funds provided by a Russian national named Maria Butina whose bio reads suspiciously like that of a Russian spy. The excuse for her liaison with Clarke was as a bankroller for a Gun Advocacy group but there’s much more to her résumé. So this is something to question him about. The Daily Beast reported on this earlier in March. Article link goes into Butina’s resume.
In retrospect, the second week of December 2015 is notable: In Moscow’s Metropol Hotel, now-disgraced Trump national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn dined with Putin at a dinner held by Russia Today, a state-sponsored propaganda outlet.
The NRA delegation’s 2015 trip to Russia took place the same week, lasting from Dec. 8-13, according to Clarke’s public financial disclosure forms, (PDF), and included not only the people who met with Rogozin but a number of other NRA dignitaries, including donors Dr. Arnold Goldshlager and Hilary Goldschlager, as well as Jim Liberatore, the CEO of the Outdoor Channel.
The delegates who were contacted by The Daily Beast did not respond to questions regarding how they paid for their trip. But Clarke, as the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, was required to fill out public disclosure forms outlining any private money he received for travel (PDF)
The trip was sponsored at least in part by the organization, The Right to Bear Arms, a firearms advocacy organization founded by Russian national Maria Butina, a former Siberian furniture store owner who now lives in Washington, D.C., and serves as a link between Russian political circles and the American capital’s conservative elite.
“A delegation of the world’s largest gun rights civic organization—the National Rifle Association of the US (the NRA) visited Moscow on an official trip and met with supporters of the Right to Bear Arms movement,” wrote Butina in Russian in December 2015, posting a photo of the delegation on her organization’s Facebook page.