Butina, 30, was arrested in July and charged with illegally acting as an agent of the Russian Federation. U.S. authorities charged that she had used her close ties to the National Rifle Association and conservative operatives to wage a covert influence campaign and even tried to broker a secret meeting between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The government initially painted the woman as a spy who used sex to get close to influential targets, but The New York Times notes prosecutors later backed away from those claims, saying they were merely jokes made in text messages.
As part of her agreement, Butina will plead guilty to conspiring “with a Russian government official … and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General,” according to a copy of the plea document obtained by ABC News. The deal also mandates Butina cooperate with federal, state and local investigators and could see her serve a short prison sentence or be released for time served, upon which she would likely be deported to Russia, according to the Times. It must still be approved by a federal judge.
During her work, Butina also posed as a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., to gain a visa, prosecutors allege. She regularly posted photos on social media that showed her posing with guns, touting Russian policies and schmoozing with notable politicians.
Dana Verkouteren via ASSOCIATED PRESS This courtroom sketch depicts Maria Butina, in orange suit, during a hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C., in July.
The official Butina allegedly conspired with has been widely reported as Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator who served as the deputy director of the Russian central bank until last month. He has been subject to sanctions in America, alongside two dozen other senior officials.
Butina’s romantic partner, Republican operative Paul Erickson, was also listed in court papers as helping her in the influence campaign. Erickson has not been charged in the investigation, but ABC notes that federal prosecutors have notified him that he is the subject of an ongoing investigation.
The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that Erickson was sent a “target letter” by investigators notifying him they were looking into violations of Section 951, a statute described as being reserved for espionage-like cases.
Butina has been held in federal custody for five months since her arrest after a judge denied her bail.
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