Accused Russian agent pleads guilty to conspiracy

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on December 13, 2018 - Duration: 01:36s

Accused Russian agent pleads guilty to conspiracy

A woman accused of acting as a Russian agent to infiltrate a powerful gun lobby group and influence U.S. policy toward Moscow pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy in federal court on Thursday in a deal with prosecutors that could give them insight into Russian meddling in American politics.

Vanessa Johnston has the story.


Accused Russian agent pleads guilty to conspiracy

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy in a DC federal court Thursday AND agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors… in a deal that could shed new light on Russian meddling in American politics.

The former American University graduate student was charged in July with acting as an agent of the Kremlin working to influence US policy…her actions including infiltrating the National Rifle Association … In a statement to the court, prosecutors said Butina had drafted a so-called "Diplomacy Project"…a secret plan to establish unofficial back channels to high-ranking American politicians to benefit Russia… …Butina admitting to conspiring with two Americans and a Russian official as part of that plan.

The Russian previously identified by her lawyers as Alexander Torshin, a prominent banking official currently under U.S. sanctions.

One of the Americans cited in the prosecution's complaint was Paul Erickson, a conservative activist who was dating Butina.

Neither Erickson nor Torshin have been accused by prosecutors of wrongdoing.

Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, estimating she could face up to six months in prison.

Moscow has said the case against Butina is "fabricated" and has called for her release.

The case is NOT part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and collusion with the Trump campaign… …charges each party denies.

But Butina now becoming the first Russian citizen convicted of trying to influence U.S. policy around the election.

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