Maria Butina, Alleged Russian Agent, Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy Against U.S.
On Thursday, alleged Russian agent Maria Butina pleaded guilty in federal court to engaging in conspiracy against the U.S.
Butina did this by trying to infiltrate Republican political spheres and alter U.S.-Russia relations during the 2016 election cycle. The 30-year-old even allegedly played a role in trying to broker a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this week, Butina reached a plea deal with prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian meddling in 2016. The charges she pleaded guilty to on Thursday are unrelated to this case. Butina is known for being a gun-rights activist and often attended events organized by groups like the National Rifle Association, the National Prayer Breakfast and other conservative organizations. She often posted photos of herself holding firearms or posing with famous American politicians on her social media accounts.
Butina even attended events that Trump spoke at early in his 2016 campaign. In July 2015, the Russian asked Trump a question at the FreedomFest Convention related to how he would handle foreign policy with Russia if elected.
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“I know Putin and I’ll tell you what, we get along with Putin. Putin has no respect for President Obama,” Trump said at the time.
According to CNN, Butina confessed to acting “under direction of” a Russian official named Alexander Torshin, who most recently served as the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia. Butina posed as a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C.
Butina faces a maximum of five years in prison for her latest charges, although CNN reported she will likely be sentenced to six months or less due to her plea deal. The Russian could also be deported after her time in prison. Butina is set to appear in court Friday for a hearing.
Meanwhile, GOP political operative Paul Erickson — who allegedly conspired with Butina and had a romantic relationship withherl — is also now being probed by federal prosecutors.
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