DC gun rights activist charged with being a Russian spy

Russian spy in the oval office? Nope that was fake news

Maria Butina

According to court papers, Ms Butina met with United States politicians and candidates, attended events sponsored by special interest groups - including two National Prayer Breakfast events - and organised Russian-American "friendship and dialogue" dinners in Washington with the goal of "reporting back to Moscow" what she had learned.

Court papers say Butina worked on behalf of an unnamed Russian official to influence senior USA politicians and develop relationships with other political organizations between 2015 and 2017.

Butina's lawyer, Robert Driscoll, said in a statement that she is not an agent of the Russian Federation but an A student at American University who has been "cooperating with various government entities for months regarding public allegations related to her contacts with various American and Russian individuals". Butina wrote that members of the delegation had been "handpicked" by a senior Russian official and were "VERY influential in Russia".

The affidavit also alleges that on October 4, 2016, U.S. Person 1 emailed an acquaintance and claimed to be involved in "securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin" and an unnamed political party.

Maria Butina was arrested Sunday on a charge of conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.

The complaint does not name the group; however, photos on her Facebook page show she has attended events sponsored by the National Rifle Association.

Torshin and Butina unsuccessfully tried to secure a meeting with President Trump before the 2016 election, a source familiar with the matter told CBS News last November. The Treasury Department sanctioned Torshin in April 2018 as part of an effort to punish the Russian government for "malign activity" around the world.

Butina and Torshin did, however, have brief interaction with Donald Trump Jr., who has said the interaction was brief and not memorable, the Post reported.

"Butina and the Russian official took steps to develop relationships with American politicians in order to establish private, or as she called them, "back channel" lines of communication", the criminal complaint says.

According to court papers, Butina met with USA politicians and candidates, attended events sponsored by special interest groups - including two National Prayer Breakfast events - and organized Russian-American "friendship and dialogue" dinners in Washington with the goal of "reporting back to Moscow" what she had learned.

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