While the media focused on bashing President Trump for purportedly supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin when he said Russia never interfered in the US election over the findings of his own intelligence agencies, prosecutors in Washington were busy charging yet another Russian national with attempting to tamper in the 2016 race.
Maria Butina, 29, was arrested Sunday in DC and charged in federal court with conspiring to act as an agent of the Russian Federation. She was ordered held without bond, according to the Washington Post.
The charges come days after the DOJ unveiled indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers and for orchestrating hacks of the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign officials.
Butina had testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee during a closed-door session months ago, the New York Times reported.
Her attorney, Robert Neil Driscoll, told the judge that Butina’s residence had been searched by the FBI in April, and that “we have been offering to cooperate with the government the entire time.”
Specifically, Burina was accused of trying to set up back channels between Russia and US politicians, including then-candidate Trump.
The Justice Department said in court documents that the woman, Mariia Butina, worked to establish “back channel” lines of communication with American politicians. “These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation.”
Ms. Butina, whose first name is more commonly spelled Maria, twice tried to set up a meetings between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin in 2016. The charges announced Monday do not name Mr. Trump but they make clear that Ms. Butina’s overtures were part of a Russian intelligence operation.
Interestingly, the charges against Butina were filed by national security prosecutors, not Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose “Witch Hunt” investigation was roundly criticized by Putin and Trump on Monday. We imagine it won’t take long for the mainstream press to tie Butina to Trump, regardless of how tenuous the links between them actually are.
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