Meet Russophile Trumpist Charlie Bausman, Traitor
After Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election, Charlie Bausman, a far right extremist working as a propagandist for Russia, wrote, as part of a celebratory post, that “Trump’s election is perhaps akin to Luther nailing his theses to the door, but now the demons are wakened, and they know they must fight or be killed, and as in the 16th century, they will not go quietly,” he wrote. “And there will be blood. Let us hope that it is the figurative, digital kind, and not the real, red, hot, sticky stuff.” A promoter of the Unite the Right rally that did end in the “real, red, hot, sticky stuff” and then as a participant in the sacking of the Capitol— which also did— Bausman was profiled by the NY Times this morning.
But Bausman has been on the radar for a long time— the radar of intelligence agencies because of his work for Russia and on the radar of groups that watch domestic terrorists and hate groups. Bausman’s treatise on anti-Semitism, “It’s Time To Drop The Jew Taboo,” has made him a celebrity on the fringes of the far right and he’s “in business” with notorious extremists and white nationalists like Michael “Enoch” Peinovich and American Nazi Richard Spencer.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s HateWatch described the shady Charlie Bausman this way this two years ago:
With a connection that dates back to August 2014, Russia Insider is the first property associated with the Google Analytics account Hatewatch found during this investigation. The website is edited by a man named Charles Bausman. Bausman lived in Moscow for the better part of three decades and published the website out of Russia until as recently as late 2017. Russia Insider is pro-Kremlin and also celebrates fascism. For example, the site has published articles with such titles as “The Latest Russian Fighter Jet Blows America’s Away” next to an entire list of articles with the tag “Hitler Was a Great Man.” Russia Insider also sometimes promotes content originally published by members of The Right Stuff. Bausman, who once contributed analysis to Russia’s state-controlled television network Russia Today, started publishing more explicitly pro-fascist and antisemitic material to his website in early 2018.
The most recent website linked to the Google Analytics account is Truth to Power News, a new website that Bausman founded, according to a Russia Insider post written in April. Bausman described the project in that post as a “general news site,” but a large share of the content published on Truth to Power News was originally produced by a group of men who are affiliated with The Right Stuff. The remaining content on Truth to Power News is other white supremacist propaganda written by extremists, including Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, and republished conspiracy theory posts from such websites as Natural News. Bausman described himself as an admirer of President Trump in 2019, and the new website also features bylines from Cassandra Fairbanks, a pundit who once worked for the Kremlin-funded news agency Sputnik. Fairbanks, who once said she would be thankful to Russia if proven that they helped elect Trump, claimed not to know Bausman when Hatewatch reached out for comment.
…Bausman has a long history of promoting Russian President Vladimir Putin to an English-speaking audience and communicated with a pro-Putin oligarch about money around the time Russia Insider first launched.
In 2015, the website The Interpreter published emails showing Bausman asked for money from pro-Kremlin Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev through his associate, Alexey Komov. The U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned Malofeev in December 2014 “because he is responsible for or complicit in, or has engaged in, actions or polices that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine and has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of [pro-Kremlin separatist activity].”
Natalia Antonova, a journalist and Russia expert who lived in Moscow for seven years, overlapping the time when Bausman launched his website, told Hatewatch the timing of Russia Insider’s creation is significant, because it launched when Putin needed positive press in the U.S., due to backlash over Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.
“Russia Insider is founded in 2014, which is the same year that Russia attacks Ukraine. And Konstantin Malofeev is fingered as a financial link between so-called rebels in Ukraine and Moscow,” Antonova explained. “Russia was feeling embattled [by the Western press] because most people were not big fans of what Russia was doing to Ukraine. Then, here comes [Russia Insider] where if your takes are too extreme for [Kremlin controlled] Russia Today, that’s where you can get them published.”
Bausman spoke to far-right disinformation purveyor Alex Jones on Infowars in 2019, while traveling with the Russian TV Channel, Rossiya-1 [Russia 1], according to a post on his website. (Bausman did not elaborate in the post on why he was traveling with that Kremlin-owned station.) Bausman told Jones he grew up in Russia because his father was the head of the Moscow bureau of the Associated Press. He said after years of making Russia his home, he moved from being a businessman to producing his propaganda website because he wanted to present a more positive vision of Russian military conflicts to Americans.
“We put up this site. We felt it was our responsibility as Americans to speak out and say something [in defense of Russia], and talk to our countrymen. And the thing just went ballistic,” Bausman told Jones, referring to his claim that Russia Insider garnered 15 million views within the first three months of the site going live.
Political scientist Marlene Laruelle of George Washington University, who is an expert on the Kremlin and its influence on far-right nationalist movements, told Hatewatch that the country’s involvement in extremist groups beyond Russia’s border often originates from the existence of a grey zone for “ideological entrepreneurship.” She said that when pro-Kremlin entrepreneurs like Bausman take independent actions to promote extremism outside Russia’s borders, it’s part of a decentralized campaign, making it tricky to prove direct coordination with Putin or Russian military intelligence.
“Each ideological entrepreneur has his own portfolio, and is put in competition with others; nothing is secured or guaranteed. They create new networks and platforms that may be later approved or disapproved by the Kremlin. This is a largely decentralized process: the centralization only comes later, post-factum— if successful,” Laruelle explained in an interview. Laruelle also noted that pro-Kremlin ideological entrepreneurs sell “services— websites, military advisors, paramilitary training— to local groups or individuals,” to provide support, without necessarily giving them marching orders.
“Russia is a provider of illiberal services to already existing actors, but does not create from scratch these illiberal actors,” Laruelle noted.
Antonova, who underscored Bausman’s connection to Malofeev, described Russia Insider’s funding to Hatewatch as “shady.” Bausman purchased a home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for $442,000 in November 2018, according to property records reviewed by Hatewatch. Hatewatch was unable to determine what Bausman does for money beyond his involvement with extremist websites like the ones reported here.
Hatewatch visited Bausman’s home in Lancaster on Sept. 25 to seek a comment about the websites and also forthcoming stories related to this investigation. He had two political signs on his yard, one promoting Trump and another promoting “ReOpen PA,” a slogan concentrated around eliminating business-related safety measures instituted in Pennsylvania following the COVID-19 pandemic. “I don’t want to speak to the media,” Bausman told Hatewatch. He also asked if Hatewatch was publishing a story about the websites and when it would be published.
Before Bausman decided he was a “political refugee” and moved back to Moscow, he hosted a white nationalist political organizing conclave on his properties in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and was interviewed by LNP-LancasterOnline. Staff writer Carter Walker reported that “Although initially denying it, Bausman admitted early this month that his barn on Millersville Pike in Lancaster Township was the site of an August 2020 rally where a group called the National Justice Party announced its formation, saying it would stand for this such as combating the ‘international jewish oligarchy’ and ensuring America retained a ‘white majority forever.’ Bausman spent much of his adult life living and working in Europe, mainly in Russia, initially working as a businessman in Russia’s agricultural sector. In 2014, he founded an online publication called Russia Insider, launching a second career as a media entrepreneur. Russia Insider, from its start, was aimed at delivering pro-Russia coverage to western audiences, starting with its defense of Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. Articles on the site attempted to make the case that America’s leaders were blinded by hatred of the Russian government to the point they were misleading Americans about the nations’ commonalities. A 2018 U.S. State Department report on rising antisemitism in Russia described Bausman’s Russia Insider as being ‘linked to progovernment oligarchs.’ Reporting from The Interpreter, an online publication covering Russia’s government and foreign policy, showed he sought funding for Russian Insider from Russian Oligarch Konstanin Malofeev, who has ties to the European far-right.”
In January 2018, Bausman published an essay, titled “It’s Time To Drop the Jew Taboo,” on Russia Insider that drew international backlash. The essay argued that Israel and Jewish people were leading efforts to undermine Russia’s place on the world stage. To deflect any criticism, Bausman said, Jews use the memory of the Holocaust to portray any critics as antisemitic.
Jewish elites, Bausman wrote, are responsible for much of society’s ills: “The evidence suggests that much of human enterprise dominated and shaped by Jews is a bottomless pit of trouble with a peculiar penchant for mendacity and cynicism, hostility to Christianity and Christian values, and in geopolitics, a clear bloodlust.”
The essay drew such rebuke that Russia Today— the Russian state-owned television network on which Bausman had appeared as a guest— disavowed him.
In his October 2020 conversation with LNP|LancasterOnline, Bausman said his willingness to criticize Jews was reinforced by his own belief that the Holocaust never happened, which he attributed to reading Holocaust-denial materials posted online by alternative media and researchers.
…Ten months after publishing his antisemitic essay, Bausman purchased a house on West Chestnut Street in the city for $440,000. In early 2020, he purchased a nearly 5-acre property at 1630 Millersville Pike in Lancaster Township for $450,000. That parcel, which includes an historic barn and a house, sits on property that once belonged to one of Bausman’s ancestors and abuts a subdivision that carries the family name.
This barn was the site of the National Justice Party’s Aug. 15, 2020 meeting. It has also been, at various times, the address for William Von Diez, a former leader in the white supremacist group Identity Evropa; Norman “Trey” Garrison, the former editor of The Lancaster Patriot whom LNP|LancasterOnline reported last year was a host of a white-nationalist podcast; and is currently the home of Greg Conte, a founding member of the National Justice Party, according to Bausman.
Like Scott Perry (R-PA), the fascist congressman whose district is not far from the property the Russians are rumored to have bought for Bausman, Bausman asked Trump— via an interview he did in Moscow— to pardon him “for January 6.” Bausman and his Russian wife moved back to Moscow after the attempted coup failed. This morning Mike McIntire filled in more details on the treasonous Bausman for Times readers, including photos of him inside the Capitol during the January 6 riot that he had been promoting and telling fascists to go to. That’s him on the right:
McIntire wrote that “Bausman’s path in some ways tracks a broader shift on the political right that embraces misinformation and sympathy toward Russia while tolerating an increasingly emboldened white nationalism. For its part, the Kremlin has sought to court conservatives in the United States and sow discord through a network of expats, collaborators and spies… After surfacing as a voluble defender of Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea, Bausman became an outspoken Trump supporter. With white nationalism on the rise, he threw himself into promoting it, relocating to rural Pennsylvania and hosting neo-Nazis at his property. He joined Republican protests against coronavirus restrictions and the 2020 election and most recently has reappeared in Russian media to criticize the West’s response to the war in Ukraine… Speaking on a white nationalist podcast in April, in which he attacked critics of Russia as ‘evil pedophile globalists’ who control the ‘enslaved West,’ he explained why he was back in Moscow: ‘I’m a political refugee here.’” Earlier he had tried— and largely failed— to cash in on the collapse of the Soviet Union by helping people steal state property, the source of virtually all of today’s wealthy Russians’ fortunes. But not Bausman’s, a serial business failure, who lived off his parents’ wealth for his entire life and who finally stabilized his finances by selling out the U.S. to Russia.
The role of online agitator was not an obvious one for Bausman, who grew up in the wealthy suburb of Greenwich, Conn., attended prep school and went on to earn a history degree from Wesleyan and study business at Columbia. His experience with Russia dates to his childhood, when his father served as the Moscow bureau chief for the Associated Press.
…Russia analysts who have followed Bausman’s work say it has the hallmarks of a disinformation project. Olga Lautman, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis who researches Russian propaganda campaigns, said his messaging merged seamlessly with that of Mr. Putin’s government.
“The initial purpose of his outlet was to muddle the truth in American circles about Crimea,” she said. “And then you see his outlet and others repurposed to support the Kremlin narrative about Syria, and then the 2016 U.S. elections.
“It appears,” she said, “to be a classic Russian influence operation.”
…While living in Lancaster with his Russian wife and two young daughters, Bausman turned his attention to two new websites devoted largely to white nationalist content. Headlines included: “Out of Control Black Violence” and “Jewish Intellectuals Call on Gays to Perform Sex Acts in Front of Children.”
Bausman concealed his ownership of one of these sites, National Justice, through a private registration, which the New York Times confirmed by reviewing data leaked last year from Epik, a web-hosting service favored by the far right. The site has the same name as a white nationalist organization and featured posts by one of its leaders, though it is not the group’s official site, according to its chairman, Michael Peinovich.
In an interview, Peinovich said Bausman had hosted party members at his farmstead for an inaugural meeting in 2020 (a large event first reported by a local news outlet, LancasterOnline). But afterward, he said, his group “went our own way” because it did not agree with Bausman’s preoccupation with supporting Trump.
Three days before Jan. 6, 2021, Bausman allowed Rod of Iron Ministries, a gun-themed religious sect led by a son of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, to meet at his property, according to photos on social media. Members of the sect had been active in “Stop the Steal” rallies, some of which Bausman had also attended, and were at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
On Facebook, Bausman posted an appeal for people to go to Washington “to support Trump.” At various points during the riot, Bausman can be seen inside the Capitol, often using his phone to record the chaos.
Afterward, he returned to Lancaster and gave a lengthy interview for a video about the insurrection produced by Arkady Mamontov, a Russian television host known for splashy pro-Kremlin propaganda pieces. The video also included footage of Bausman outside his home that appears to have been filmed months earlier. Mamontov did not respond to a request for comment.
In the video, Bausman suggested, without evidence, that federal agents had instigated the violence at the Capitol to “discredit Trump,” and he painted a dystopian, conspiratorial picture of American society. It is a theme that he has carried forward to more recent appearances on Malofeev’s television network, in which he has accused Western media of lying about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.