Maria Butina: 'covert Russian agent' will plead guilty over effort to infiltrate NRA
    Jared
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Maria Butina: 'covert Russian agent' will plead guilty over effort to infiltrate NRA




Accused Russian agent Maria Butina, who is suspected of trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) and influence US policy toward Russia, is expected to plead guilty this week following a deal between her lawyers and US prosecutors, according to court filings on Monday.

CNN reported on Monday that Butina had already begun to cooperate with prosecutors, citing one source familiar with the matter. US district judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington scheduled a hearing for 12 December.

Butina, a former American University graduate student, had previously pleaded not guilty to US charges in July that she was acting as an agent of the Russian government and conspiring to take actions on Russia’s behalf.

Prosecutors have accused her of working with a Russian official and two US citizens to try to infiltrate the powerful NRA lobby group that has close ties to Republican politicians including Donald Trump, and influence Washington’s policy toward Moscow.

Butina’s lawyers previously identified the Russian official as Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who was hit with US treasury department sanctions in April.
         
One of the two Americans mentioned in the prosecutors’ criminal complaint was Paul Erickson, a conservative US political activist who was dating Butina. Neither Erickson nor Torshin have been accused by prosecutors of wrongdoing.

The government’s complaint against Butina did not explicitly mention Trump’s campaign.

Butina ran a small Russian group called the Right to Bear Arms that appears to have been funded in part by Torshin, an ally of Vladimir Putin.

But the justice department said Butina was a “covert Russian agent” who maintained contacts with Russian spies and pursued a mission “to penetrate the US national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation”.

In 2016, she moved to Washington to study for a master’s degree from American University.

Erickson, whom she lived with, helped introduce her further in Republican circles. Her social media accounts showed her mingling with senior US politicians and posing with firearms at national gun shows.

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(This post was last modified: 12-11-2018, 01:49 AM by Jared.)
12-11-2018, 01:47 AM
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