Woman arrested in U.S. accused of acting as Russian agent
Jul 17 2018
A 29-year-old Russian woman has been arrested for conspiring to influence United States politics by cultivating ties with political groups including the National Rifle Association. In truth, Helson wrote, "Butina continued to act as an agent on behalf of the Russian Federation" and an unnamed Russian official.
Ms Butina, who lives in Washington, was arrested on Sunday and was ordered held in jail pending a hearing set for Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement.
Alexander Torshin, the head of Russia's central bank, and Butima met with Donald Trump, Jr.at the NRA's 2016 convention. Torshin was among several Russian oligarchs hit by USA sanctions in April.
The Justice Department says Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government. The Treasury Department sanctioned Torshin in April 2018 as part of an effort to punish the Russian government for "malign activity" around the world.
The US government has charged a 29-year-old Russian woman with conspiracy to act as a Russian government agent while infiltrating political groups. "She is a Russian national in the United States on a student visa who recently graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. with a Masters Degree in International Relations and 4.0 Grade Point Average", the statement says.
According to court papers, Butina met with U.S. 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.
He said Butina's Washington apartment was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in April, and said she had offered to answer questions from the Justice Department and Mueller's team but the special counsel's office "has not expressed interest".
In a March interview with the Times Leader John Yenason spoke about how he found himself on a government list of people with possible ties to Russia
The New York Timesreported that during the 2016 election campaign Butina had twice tried to broker secret meetings between Trump and Putin.
NPR also reported in March that Butina was also in contact with the NRA.
He said: 'The substance of the charge in the complaint is overblown, ' and insisted Butina only wished to network with Americans.
Butina hosted several leading NRA executives and pro-gun conservatives at her group's annual meeting in 2015, according to those reports.
McClatchy previously reported that the FBI was investigating Russian attempts to funnel money to the Trump presidential campaign through the NRA, a claim the gun rights group has denied.
"I know Putin and I'll tell you what, we get along with Putin", Trump responded, in the first of his many campaign statements about his desire to build better ties with Russian Federation. The Post reported Butina accompanied Erickson to Trump's inauguration.