Alleged Russian Spy Maria Butina That Played Republicans & NRA Pleads Guilty

Sunday, 16 Dec, 2018

Asked by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan if she agreed with the government's characterization of the conspiracy, Butina said yes.

"Are you pleading guilty today because you are guilty?"

The next hearing on the case to take place on 12th of February.

In light of her expected cooperation, prosecutors recommended Butina face a sentence of no more than six months. Butina told Chutkan she was "extremely satisfied" with her lawyers, and she waived any potential conflict.

Butina, 30, was charged this summer for illegally acting as a foreign agent for Russian Federation and accused of trying to create a back channel for Russian Federation through activist groups, including the National Rifle Association.

Law enforcement officials identified the unnamed American as Paul Erickson, a Republican activist and romantic companion of Butina. Both in court and in the filings, prosecutors refer to what is apparently the GOP as "Political Party #1".

Of course, even the prosecution was forced to admit that her activities were characterized in a way which may have been more theatrical than accurate.

According to her plea agreement, Butina's work was directed by Torshin, a former longtime member of the Russian parliament who until recently was an official in Russia's central bank.

After the visit, Butina wrote to Torshin that "we should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later", prosecutors wrote in the court papers.

The complaint against Butina, however, did not explicitly mention Trump's campaign.

While speculation swirled over Clarke's ties to the Russian agent, she was awaiting approval for her plea deal from a judge. Torshin was hit with U.S. Treasury Department sanctions in April.

Torshin has also been linked to Russian organized crime figures according to Spanish investigators who spent years tapping phones and monitoring Russians.

Though her case is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, Butina may possess information that will be valuable to federal prosecutors looking into other Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.

Prosecutors later withdrew the accusations, saying they were based on a misreading of some of Butina's text messages and emails.

Her defense lawyers had argued that the portrayal made by prosecutors was an exaggerated caricature. While she was living in Washington, D.C., Butina attended events including National Rifle Association conventions, rallies for President Donald Trump, and the National Prayer Breakfast.

Russian activist Mariia Butina was arrested Sunday, July 15 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of being an unregistered agent.

Prosecutors say that Butina's main goal was to develop and secure relationships with American politicians, utilizing her contacts within the NRA to help with that goal0. She is facing a prison term of up to five years. "For what?" Putin asked.