Maria Butina, accused Russian spy, pleads guilty to conspiracy

Maria Butina, accused Russian spy, pleads guilty to conspiracy

The Russian government objected to Butina's arrest, and accused the United States of subjecting her to "practices that are slightly below torture". A hearing was set for February to discuss a sentencing date.

It's still unknown if there will be a plea agreement or if that agreement would include a cooperation agreement.

The charge of conspiracy opens the possibility that other people could also be charged in the case.

Butina is expected to provide evidence against a Republican Party consultant with whom she had a romantic relationship and worked closely with after they met while he visited Moscow in 2013.

"She is this young woman who was dealing with a very specific issue, and that is gun rights".

Prosecutors say Butina and her Russian patron, Alexander Torshin, used their contacts in the National Rifle Association to pursue Russian back channels to American conservatives during that campaign, when Republican Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

As part of her plea deal, the details of which ABC News reported earlier this week, Butina agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in any ongoing investigations.

That Butina was going to change her plea to guilty comes as no surprise, as in recent days, there were reports that the accused Russian spy was going to change her plea.

Prosecutors say it is "very likely" she will be deported from the US after her sentence is completed.

Driscoll, Butina's lawyer, has said his client was a legitimate university student.

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Butina took the deal "to survive". There was a hole by her left elbow in the white long-sleeved shirt she wore under her jumpsuit. Prosecutors did not agree on any guidelines range, but agreed to request leniency if she provides "substantial assistance". Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Kenerson, bottom left, and co-defense attorney's Alfred Carry, right, listen.

In DC federal court Thursday morning, Butina admitted to working with an American Republican operative and a Russian official to establish unofficial lines of communication between USA politicians and Moscow, according to the Washington Post. The NRA spent $30 million in support of President Donald Trump's campaign, and both the FBI and the Federal Elections Commission are now investigating whether any of that money came from Russian sources.

In the "Diplomacy Project," Butina suggested using unofficial channels to influence USA foreign policy.

"Guilty", Butina responded when asked by Washington-based U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkin how she'd plead. The operative, previously named as Paul Erickson, is a longtime GOP political adviser from South Dakota who managed the 1992 presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan.

The charges against Butina were brought by federal prosecutors in Washington, not Mr. Mueller.

"Paul Erickson is a good American".

Throughout the statement of offense, Erickson appears as "U.S. Person 1", working with Butina to establish contacts with the Republican Party and NRA, including organizing a Russian delegation to the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast.

The Russian government has previously described the case as "fabricated".

Court documents show Butina lived with a USA man in his 50s who has been identified as Paul Erickson, a Republican activist and NRA member.

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