Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent years after she openly bragged about it.
Admitted agent of the Russian government Maria Butina previously bragged about connecting Trump's presidential campaign to Russia.
Butina pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to act as a foreign agent on behalf of the Russian government.
In her plea the Russian admitted she was part of a conspiracy against the United States.
She also admitted that she drafted a proposal to set up "unofficial channels of communication" between Russia and the Republican Party. Butina indicated in the proposal that the NRA would be a viable vehicle to wield that influence thanks to its political sway within Republican circles.
In court filings, prosecutors said she "sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over US politics."
A report earlier in the year from the Senate Judiciary Committee found that Russia used the NRA "as a means of accessing and assisting" the Trump campaign.
The Daily Beast had reported in early 2017 that Butina, at a costume party held shortly after the 2016 election, "brazenly claimed that she had been part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia," according to two individuals who were present.
Butina also made the same claim in one of her graduate classes at American University. Svetlana Savranskaya, her former professor, told the Daily Beast, " She said so in my class. And she said so several times in the last semester."
Butina is a self-described "life member" of the NRA and was close friends and business partners with political operative Paul Erickson. She was also reportedly close to Alexander Torshin, the deputy head of Russia's central bank and a former member of the Russian parliament.
Torshin and Butina met with Donald Trump Jr. at an NRA dinner in May of 2016. Two weeks later, Trump Jr. got the email offer of dirt on Hillary Clinton that was followed up with the meeting at Trump Tower between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives.
Butina's story is just another data point showing connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives ahead of the election, despite Trump's repeated attempts to lie about the issue and minimize its importance.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.