Maria Butina has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors, which means she may have a whole lot of information to reveal. Butina has been accused of being a Russian agent and having “unofficial influence” inside the Trump campaign, according to NPR.
Butina will plead guilty to a conspiracy charge to act as a Russian agent on US soil without registering with the Justice Department, as is required. She could spend up to five years in prison, but may end up serving far less time due to her cooperation with federal prosecutors.
Butina was arrested and detained by US authorities in July. She is currently being held in a detention center in Alexandria, Virginia, where she is in solitary confinement.
She has agreed to cooperate completely with prosecutors, including testifying before a grand jury. Under the terms of the deal, she will remain in federal custody until her sentence is completed. Once that happens, Butina may be deported back to Russia.
Butina has been identified by CNN as a “Russian spy.” According to their reporting, Butina got close to officials at the NRA and political insiders in 2016.
Until this plea deal was reached, Butina has been saying she is nothing more than an innocent foreign student visiting America. She previously pleaded not guilty after being arrested in July for acting as an agent of a foreign government.
In the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors, Butina is accused of forging connections with both individual Americans and groups, including the NRA. She stayed in contact with Russia and regularly made contact with Russian intelligence agents.
According to prosecutors, Butina’s enrollment and classes at American University were merely a cover for her espionage activities.
Under the plea deal, Butina admitted that she and “U.S. person 1,” whom ABC News has identified as Paul Erickson, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (‘Russian 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.”
“Russian Official” is believed to be Alexander Toshin, deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank and an ally of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
Documents reveal that U.S. person 1 “worked with Butina to arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence in American politics.” This includes high-ranking NRA members and Donald Trump, who at the time was a candidate for president of the US.
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