The admitted agent for Russia was connected with the NRA and pro-Trump U.S. political groups.
Convicted Russian spy Maria Butina, who admitted to working in the United States as an agent of the Russian government to infiltrate the NRA and influence U.S. conservative activists and Republicans, will be sentenced on April 26, said U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Thursday.
The charges against Butina were not part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s now-completed investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election. The contents of Mueller's report have not been released.
The man identified as Butina's former boyfriend (more accurately, her compromise target) Paul Erickson, in the photo below, remains in legal jeopardy. His fate is yet to be determined.
Butina, a former graduate student at American University who publicly advocated for gun rights, pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Russia. She has remained in custody since her arrest in July 2018.
The 30-year-old native of Siberia wore a green jail jump suit during the brief hearing in Washington, but said nothing.
Chutkan said during the hearing that sentencing memos from prosecutors and Butina’s defense team will be due a week before the sentencing date. Prosecutors and defense lawyers approached the bench for a discussion with the judge, but the subject of those talks was not made public.
Butina has admitted to conspiring with a Russian official and two Americans from 2015 until her arrest to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and create unofficial lines of communication to try to make Washington’s policy toward Moscow more friendly. The NRA is closely aligned with U.S. conservatives and Republican politicians including President Donald Trump.
Chutkan in February had delayed the sentencing at the request of prosecutors, who said Butina was cooperating in their ongoing investigation. Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, said at the time his client was ready for sentencing.
Russia in December accused the United States of forcing Butina to falsely confess to what it described as the “absolutely ridiculous charges” of her being a Russian agent.
Alexander Torshin, former deputy governor of the Russian central bank, is the Russian government official named in Butina’s U.S. legal case.
Paul Erickson is named as “Person 1” in court records. He is said to have helped Butina figure out which American politicians to target.