Maria Butina, Accused Of Being A Russian Agent, May Be In Talks For Plea Deal

Nov 16, 2018
Originally published on November 16, 2018 1:10 pm

Prosecutors are negotiating a potential plea agreement with the Russian woman who was charged over the summer with being a clandestine foreign agent.

The U.S. attorney's office for Washington, D.C., said in a court filing that its lawyers are in talks with counsel for the woman, Maria Butina, who also was charged with alleged conspiracy.

Her lawyers have said she is simply a naive young woman who was "jabbering" about her efforts to influence U.S. politicians.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the filing because the case remains pending.

The judge in the case also has imposed a gag order on all parties involved after some earlier comments to journalists.

Butina was arrested in July in Washington, D.C., as she was preparing to move away, prosecutors said. She has been linked with a number of attempts to influence the political establishment in the United States, many using her long-standing support of gun rights.

In 2016, for example, Butina's boyfriend, Republican fundraiser Paul Erickson, contacted people on Donald Trump's presidential campaign with an offer to set up a back-channel relationship with the Russian government via the National Rifle Association.

Butina appears to have reported back to a Russian government official, Alexander Torshin, who also spent years cultivating relationships with the NRA and Republican politicians.

Torshin was placed under sanction by the Treasury Department and is now barred from returning to the United States.

Butina also sought relationships with other important figures in the world of conservative politics, including the National Prayer Breakfast, and she attended Trump's inauguration in early 2017.

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