Maria Butina, the Russian spy who infiltrated Republican political circles and used the NRA to influence the 2016 general election, is preparing to sign a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
Butina failed to register as a foreign agent when she deeply embedded herself inside of GOP political circles. Butina allegedly reported back to powerful Russians as she worked to influence U.S. politics.
Butina has maintained that she’s innocent of failing to register as a foreign agent but her plea deal might point to a change of direction in her efforts to maintain she’s not responsible for any wrongdoing.
The Siberia resident is responsible for founding a group aimed at expanding gun rights in Russia. After moving to the United States, Butina stepped up her efforts in 2016 by relocating to Washington and enrolling at America University. From there, she was able to gain access to the NRA where her efforts allowed Russian officials to allegedly influence the American gun rights organization.
For months, Butina’s lawyers claimed she was just an “innocent” student who was ambitious about politics. They also transitioned to claim she was protected by freedom of speech rights. However, prosecutors have shown that she was in contact with Alexander Torshin, a former senator who now serves as deputy director of the Russian central bank.
The two-page “change of plea” deal calls for a hearing as soon as Tuesday.
Here’s the change of plea deal document:Maria Butina Plea Deal Change
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.