O’Neill has been an advocate of closer ties between Republicans and Russia, arguing that Russia could be a “good partner” for the United States and painting himself as a member of the “non-interventionist right.” In a 2017 article, O’Neill complained about the “Russophobia” and “Neo-McCarthyism” behind media articles on ties between the right and the Kremlin. At the same time, O’Neill was exchanging notes with Butina with the apparent goal of making more ties between the right and Russia.
These ties included such meetings around the National Prayer Breakfast, where according to Bloomberg, O’Neill hosted a Russian delegation. That dinner also appears in the charges against Butina, as an event where she acted as a Russian agent to advance Kremlin objectives.
With Erickson helping secure Butina’s connections with the NRA, and O’Neill working with her to bring Russians in contact with Republican leadership and strategists, the accused spy had direct access to a broad swath of the GOP. O’Neill described the dinner as one between the Russian delegation and “American intellectuals” and denied that his conservative guests were either “useful idiots” or “Putin stooges.”
He also maintained that “any clear thinking person” would see the benefits of a close relationship with Russia, though the did admit that Putin’s actions, “can sometimes be problematic." Though if that problematic action includes removing any rights for gays, shooting journalists, or simply killing off his opposition was not clear. In any case, there was someone who did appreciate everything O’Neill did to cement Russia and the right.
Butina: My dearest President has received ‘the message’ about...your constructive and kind attention to the Russians.
Presumably, Butina means Vladmir Putin when she means her “dearest President” though, that isn’t one hundred percent certain.