Russian 'agent' arrested in U.S. to undermine Putin-Trump summit: Moscow


The 29-year-old is alleged to have been in contact with Russian intelligence officials and spoke to wealthy Russian oligarchs to fund her trip to America, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"U.S. Person 1", who the indictment claims provided Butina with a list of American contacts to help her agenda, is likely Paul Erickson, a Republican consultant who sought to organize a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Torshin at an NRA convention in 2016, and who the affidavit says first met Butina in Moscow in 2013. Maria Butina also had ties to wealthy businessmen linked to the Putin administration and appeared to have plans to flee the USA, prosecutors said in a new court filing.

"For example, on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than US Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization", it continued.

In the email, Butina asked the unnamed Russian official for $125,000 to participate in "all upcoming major conferences" of "Political Party 1".

She also had contact information for people who investigators believe were employees of Russia's Federal Security Services, or FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB.

"Because Butina has been exposed as an illegal agent of Russian Federation, there is the grave risk that she will appeal to those within that government with whom she conspired to aid her escape from the United States", the government's attorneys wrote.

Prosecutors also said Butina was regarded as a covert agent by a Russian official with whom she was in touch, with text messages discovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showing how the official likened her to Anna Chapman, a Russian woman who was arrested in 2010 and then deported as part of a prisoner swap.

The text included: "You have upstaged Anna Chapman".

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The report bolsters the DOJ's claim that Butina worked with a high ranking Russian official to establish a "back channel" between the USA and Russia.

Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has said she did not work as a covert Russian agent. According to court papers, the Russian official responded, "You're a daredevil girl! What can I say!" He and the Russians sought to use the imprimatur of the NRA in order to meet US political leaders and Trump, citing a "back channel" he had forged with the Kremlin.

Other photos show the trio alongside David Keene, who formerly served as NRA president and chairman of the American Conservative Union, a group best known for organizing the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which Butina has reportedly attended as a VIP.

The NRA has so far made no comment this week about the Butina charges or the Torshin connection.

Driscoll said she was just a student, attending American University in the nation's capital, who "at most" was seeking to promote a better relationship between the USA and Russian Federation.

It said Butina and the official sought to develop relationships with United States politicians to create "back channel" lines of communications that could be "used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus".

"But this relationship does not represent a strong tie to the United States because Butina appears to treat it as simply a necessary aspect of her activities", the document said.

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