Maria Butina, a Russian national with deep ties to the NRA, indicted as covert agent

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by SueEllenRules!, Jul 26, 2018.

  1. SueEllenRules!

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    Grand jury indicts Maria Butina, a Russian national with deep ties to the NRA, for conspiracy and acting as a Russian agent

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    • A grand jury on Tuesday indicted Maria Butina, a Russian national with deep ties to the National Rifle Association.
    • Butina is charged with conspiracy against the US and acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.
    • A hearing for her case is set for Wednesday, the Justice Department said in an earlier press release.
    A federal grand jury in Washington, DC, indicted Maria Butina, a Russian national with links to the National Rifle Association, on two charges.

    Butina is accused of conspiracy against the United States and acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Russian government.

    Butina was arrested on Sunday and made an initial court appearance Monday afternoon, the Justice Department said. A hearing in her case has been set for Wednesday.

    Butina was not arrested as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. But her arrest indicates that the US government as a whole is focusing more of its attention on Russia's influence in domestic politics.

    According to an affidavit submitted with the DOJ's criminal complaint against Butina, she worked at the direction of a high-level Russian government official who was previously a member of the Russian parliament and later a top official at the Russian Central Bank. The official is not named, but the description in the indictment fits that of Alexander Torshin, a Russian gun-rights advocate and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Torshin was sanctioned by the US in April.

    The DOJ also accused Butina of falsely reporting, when she applied for a student visa to the US, that she had already finished working for the Russian official. Instead, the DOJ alleges that Butina worked for this individual from at least 2015 through February 2017.

    Both Torshin and Butina have deep ties to the NRA, and Torshin attended the NRA's convention every year between 2012 and 2016, occasionally with Butina at his side. He has met every NRA president since 2012, according to NPR.

    And when the NRA sent a delegation to Moscow in the winter of 2015, it was Torshin who received them on behalf of The Right to Bear Arms, the Russian gun-rights group that Butina spearheads.

    Butina has been cultivating her own ties with American gun-rights activists, like Republican strategist Paul Erickson, whom she has been acquainted with since at least 2013.

    Erickson appears to fit the description of an individual denoted as "US Person 1" in the affidavit.

    The affidavit said Butina and this individual worked together to arrange introductions to other Americans who are influential in US politics, "including an organization promoting gun rights … for the purpose of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation."

    The affidavit outlines several emails Butina sent to US Person 1 that highlight the depth of her connections to the NRA and to GOP politics. It also said Butina and the Russian official worked to establish "back channel" lines of communication with US political operatives to penetrate the US national decision-making apparatus" and advance Russian interests.

    The affidavit lists another individual, "US Person 2," described as a US citizen who was included in a series of email communications in 2016 and 2017.

    Butina allegedly told this person that the Russian official was "very much impressed by you" and that the "Russians will support the efforts from our side."

    In another email, sent on October 4, 2016, US Person 1 allegedly said to an acquaintance, "Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns, I've been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key [GOP] leaders through, of all conduits, the [NRA]."

    The next day, Butina and the Russian official exchanged a series of Twitter direct messages in which Butina said they had "made" their "bet" and that she was "following our game."

    The official replied that it "is not about winning today's fight (although we are striving for it) but to win the entire battle. This is the battle for the future, it cannot be lost! Or everyone will lose."

    Butina had a birthday party on November 12, 2016, four days after Donald Trump won the US election in a shocking upset. The gathering featured several top Trump campaign advisers, according to The Daily Beast. Erickson, who was also in attendance, reportedly told guests Butina was on the Trump transition team.

    Two months later, Butina was one of several Putin-allied Russians who attended Trump's inaugural celebrations.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/maria-butina-indicted-russian-national-nra-ties-2018-7
     
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  2. Snarky's Ghost

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    Yeah, this one is really bizarre.
     
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  3. Majorfanofshow

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    I am disgusted that so many Russians are allowed unrestricted access to all of America. Russia invaded and broke up Georgia in 2008 and invaded and broke up Ukraine in 2014 and this didn’t mean any restrictions whatsoever for Russians in America. Can anyone even try to explain why Russias citizens in America with temporary visas could become involved in politics like butina or veselnitskaya or Torshin or so many more. I need this explained. Like even though trump was hiring all these Russians for his collusion with the Russian government to win the election trump didn’t give them visas. Obama did that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
  4. SueEllenRules!

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    And yet, almost predictable at this point.
     
  5. Snarky's Ghost

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  6. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    According to a local paper, back in May she had already been trying to cut a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's office in South Dakota and throw some unidentified people under the bus in exchange for a benefit. And if that was her intent when she was still free as a bird, hopefully she hasn't changed her mind now that she's rotting in jail.

    https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/l...cle_4ab7814d-b896-526f-b370-e31bbc4ca2a0.html
     
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  7. SueEllenRules!

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    Accused Spy Maria Butina Is Cooperating In Fraud Probe: Attorney
    The Russian was living with Republican operative Paul Erickson when she was arrested.

    Accused Russian agent Maria Butina is cooperating with U.S. federal investigators in a fraud probe likely involving a Republican operative, according to her attorney.

    Butina’s lawyer Robert Driscoll noted her cooperation last week during a detention hearing and has released a letter concerning a cooperation request from the U.S. Justice Department.

    Driscoll argued July 18 that she be released on bail, pointing out that his client was not a flight risk and wascooperating in a federal fraud probe in South Dakota, Mother Jones reported.

    The prosecutor said in court that the fraud investigation concerned Butina’s romantic partner from Sioux Falls. Though the court case against Butina, 29, doesn’t identify the man by name, at the time of her arrest she was living with GOP conservative activist Paul Erickson, 56, of South Dakota. Federal officials said Erickson reached out to Trump campaign leaders in a bid to establish a “back channel” between the campaign and the Kremlin, The New York Times reported.

    Butina was indicted earlier this month on charges of conspiring to influence American politics while covertly serving as an agent of the Russian government. She cultivated political contacts through the National Rifle Association and appeared to be at least partially bankrolled by controversial Russian billionaire Alexander Torshin, former deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank, according to the case against her.

    It’s not clear what fraud is being investigated by federal authorities. But Erickson has lost lawsuits for unpaid debts and fraudulent behavior, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

    The Rapid City Journal also obtained a letter from Driscoll’s law firm written in May, before Butina was indicted, from the U.S. attorney in South Dakota seeking an agreement on her cooperation in the investigation. The letter sought Butina’s help in providing “information and possible testimony regarding her knowledge of the illegal activities of others.” The letter included statements with room for signatures agreeing to cooperate, though it’s not known if the papers were signed by Butina and her attorney.

    Driscoll entered the letter as an exhibit the day he argued that Butina be released on bail, according to the Rapid City newspaper. The judge ruled after the hearing that Butina should remain in custody.

    According to the hearing transcript, one of two warrants the FBI used to search Butina’s Washington, D.C., apartment in April was “related to matters in South Dakota.”

    The man believed to be Erickson is called “U.S. Person 1” in the indictment against Butina. According to the court documents, U.S. Person 1 helped Butina choose a student visa as her cover in the U.S., lived with her and provided access to politically influential Americans.

    Driscoll has said his client is innocent of any criminal activities and that she was simply “networking” in the U.S.

    Accused Spy Maria Butina Is Cooperating In Fraud Probe: Attorney - HuffPost https://apple.news/AbilmnNUCRg-WrUM6FIbm5A
     
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  8. SueEllenRules!

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    Washington Post: Trump associate interacted with alleged Russian spy before election
    Maria Butina, the Russian national charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of Russia within the US, interacted with a former Trump campaign aide in the run-up to the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported Friday.

    According to documents and testimony provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee and described to the newspaper, Butina "sought out interactions" with the aide, J.D. Gordon, who had served as the director of national security to the Trump campaign before departing in August 2016 and being offered a position in the early Trump transition team effort.

    The newspaper reported that Gordon "anticipated joining the presidential transition team" and the revelation of his interactions with Butina shows she was "in closer contact with President Trump's orbit than was previously known."

    Butina and Gordon were in contact over email in September and October 2016, the newspaper reported. According to the Post, Gordon extended invitations to Butina to attend a concert in Washington and to his birthday party in October 2016.

    Gordon and an attorney for Butina downplayed the interactions in statements to the Post.

    "From everything I've read since her arrest last month, it seems the Maria Butina saga is basically a sensationalized click bait story meant to smear a steady stream of Republicans and NRA members she reportedly encountered over the past few years," Gordon said, asking, "I wonder which prominent Republican political figures she hasn't come across?"

    Robert Driscoll, an attorney for Butina, said, "A military guy who had been involved would have been a prime target, if that's what she was about." He added, "But the evidence is clear that there wasn't any significant contact."

    Driscoll has previously denied the allegation that Butina acted as a Russian agent.

    A spokesperson for the Senate Intelligence Committee and Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, declined to comment to the newspaper.

    Washington Post: Trump associate interacted with alleged Russian spy before election - CNN Politics https://apple.news/AEikAtU7nSv6H-ee0iArckg
     

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