Russian who worked with NRA to spy on Americans gets 18 months in jail


Russian spy Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison for trying to infiltrate conservative organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Russian spy Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on Friday for failing to register as a foreign agent when she tried to infiltrate conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, the Washington Post reports.

Butina had already pleaded guilty in December to acting as a Russian foreign agent, and admitted that she engaged in a conspiracy to set up "unofficial channels of communication" between Russia and the Republican Party. She did so by posing as a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., and went on to use that cover when she tried to make inroads in the conservative political scene — especially within the NRA.

Now, however, she's been sentenced to prison and will be deported once her time has been served, according to the Washington Post.

The Kremlin used the NRA, a pro-gun lobbying group that has been highly influential in Republican politics, "as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign," the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a report in May 2018.

Butina was one of the key figures involved in Russia's effort to infiltrate and use the NRA in its quest to "secretly fund" the Trump campaign, according to that same Senate Judiciary Committee report.

The news of Butina's sentencing came shortly before Trump was slated to speak at an NRA conference in Indiana.

Before his speech, Trump talked up the NRA, tweeting that the group "Is getting stronger & stronger and doing some really great and important work. Having their powerful support has been vital to #MAGA!"

However, the NRA is not getting "stronger and stronger," as Trump claimed.

In fact, the group is in such dire financial straits that it had to scale back its political spending in the 2018 midterm elections. Without this political spending, the NRA loses its sway over GOP lawmakers — who the group has used to help tank gun control efforts through the years.

Butina's sentencing is unlikely to help the NRA boost its financial position.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.