Tulsi Gabbard Hires Russian Agent to Keep Hawaii Media in Check
by Andrew Walden
Russia has lots of experience in media censorship. So perhaps it is logical that Rep Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) hires an agent of the Russian government as a ‘consultant’ to keep Hawaii media under control.
But Gabbard’s consultant, Chris Cooper of the Potomac Square Group, is no ordinary Russian agent. Cooper is allegedly one of seven identified as being at the center of illegal Russian lobbying efforts reaching into the Trump campaign and Congress.
Inquiries with Gabbard’s DC office last June by reporter Christine Gralow—then stringing an article for Honolulu Magazine--must have piqued the attentions of the numerous Hare Krishna cultists employed there. Within 24 hours a letter from Cooper, identifying himself as “a consultant to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard,” riddled with misspellings and inaccuracies, landed in the in-box of Honolulu Magazine’s editors.
It worked. Honolulu Magazine suddenly lost interest in Gralow’s articles – which she eventually published on her own website, www.MeanwhileinHawaii.org. And confirming its obsequience, on November 20, Honolulu Magazine characterized a Gabbard cult expose in the New Yorker as “another project in otherizing Gabbard’s faith journey.”
Gralow says she became aware of the Cooper letter in November when a source sent her a copy. She posted the letter on her website December 31, 2017. Cooper—who has not previously been publicly known to be tied to Gabbard—is one of seven people named by Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder in a July 15, 2016 memo to the US Department of Justice identifying unregistered agents working illegally in the US “under the direction/control/influence of the Russian Government.” The seven are seeking repeal of the now-famous 2012 Magnitsky Act signed into law by President Obama in response to the imprisonment and 2009 murder of Hermitage’s anti-corruption investigator, Sergei Magnitsky, by agents of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya is also among the seven agents cited by Hermitage. Repeal of the Magnitsky Act was the subject of a well-known June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Veselnitskaya and Trump campaign officials. This meeting is a focus for numerous Trump-Russia conspiracy investigations.
The interests of Russia’s Syrian client-dictator Bashar al-Assad were front and center when Gabbard met personally with then President-elect Trump November 21, 2016. Gabbard afterwards told reporters, “I shared with (Trump) my grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called no fly/safe zone would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country, and the world.” In January, 2017, Gabbard travelled to Syria and met with Assad in a highly criticized trip organized by a pro-Assad political party. Gabbard has repeatedly argued that President Obama was arming ISIS and al-Qaeda via his support of anti-Assad rebels.
Gabbard’s Hare Krishna guru Chris Butler seeks recognition from mainstream Hinduism in India. Gabbard has developed close ties with the Hindu nationalist government of India. India’s foreign policy is traditionally aligned with Russia. The Hindu nationalists are anti-Islamist. By aligning with India’s foreign policy, Gabbard’s work relating to Russia and Syria dovetails with Butler’s drive for recognition from India.
International intrigue is nothing new for the Butler Cult. Cult followers were convicted in New Zealand in 2008 and 2010 for trafficking 240 tonnes of hashish into the US--in part from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
According to Hermitage, Cooper arranged a June 13, 2016 Washington, DC showing of an anti-Magnitsky Act ‘documentary’ along with Rinat Akhmetshin “a former member of the Russian military intelligence services (GRU).” Hermitage continues: “…the day after the Newseum event, Congressman Royce chaired a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on U.S. policy towards Putin’s Russia… attended by…Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin.”
Cooper’s website informs readers that he “help(s) clients define and disseminate their narratives” and “client work focuses on interests in the US and Europe and countries that include Russia….”
The New York Times buttonholed Cooper at the documentary showing and reports: “Mr. Cooper rented the theater in the Newseum and declined to say who was paying his company.”
Asked who paid him to write the letter to Honolulu Magazine, Cooper likewise did not respond to Hawai’i Free Press.
Gabbard’s FEC records and the Congressional Statement of Disbursements for the timeframe show no payment of campaign funds or Congressional office funds to Cooper or Potomac Square. Neither Gabbard nor her office responded to our query.
PDF: Cooper Letter to Honolulu Magazine
PDF: Hermitage Letter