DOJ Charges Russian National Maria Butina With Acting As Foreign Agent

Mariia Butina: Woman arrested in DC for working on behalf of Russia

Butina, a prominent gun rights activist in Russian Federation, worked as a special assistant to Torshin and appeared alongside him at several conservative political events, including National Rifle Association conventions in recent years and the National Prayer Breakfast in 2017, according to the Post. Maria Butina was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian federation within the USA without prior notification to the attorney general.

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment on Monday against a Russian national who is a key link to the National Rifle Association.

Torshin is a former senator and deputy head of Russia's central bank who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mariia Butina, whose name is sometimes spelled Maria, was arrested in Washington on Sunday and appeared in court on Monday (Jul 16), the Justice Department said.

The complaint cited three specific "overt acts" Butina committed to further her conspiracy, including her entrance to the U.S.in August 2016 on an F-1 student visa for the "purported objective of attending university full time in the District of Columbia". Driscoll said Butina was not an agent of the Russian Federation but was instead in the USA on a student visa, graduating from American University with a master's degree in worldwide relations.

Court papers filed in support of Butina's arrest accuse her of participating in a conspiracy that began in 2015 in which an unnamed senior Russian official "tasked" her with working to infiltrate American political organizations with the goal of "reporting back to Moscow" what she had learned.

According to an affidavit from the Justice Department, Butina tried to set up a back-channel line of communication between Russian Federation and "political party leaders" through a "gun rights organization".

Trump on Monday again denied any collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin and appeared to accept Russian denials of any meddling in U.S. elections following his summit with Putin.

It may take the election of a Republican to the White House in 2016 to improve relations between the Russian Federation and the United States.

Butina's attorney, Robert Neil Driscoll, said in a statement to the Post that Butina is "not an agent of the Russian Federation".

She has previously denied having worked for the Russian government.

Butina attempted to organize a pair of meetings between Putin and Trump during the campaign, according to the New York Times. Donald Trump Jr. did end up sitting with Torshin at the event, and Kushner never reported the Russian's overture, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The next year, Keene invited Butina to attend the 2014 NRA convention in Indianapolis, where she met with the gun lobby's top leaders, including Wayne LaPierre. The Post reported Butina accompanied Erickson to Trump's inauguration.

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