Another Russian: Maria Butina Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Against the U.S.

Another Russian: Maria Butina Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Against the U.S. December 13, 2018

Are there still people attempting to push the notion that there has been no attempt by Russia to infiltrate and interfere in an American election, or are we at full “So what?” mode with those guys?

Just kidding. I know the record never changes in that camp.

That being said, Thursday yielded more weight to the charges of Russian meddling when 30 year old Maria Butina pleaded guilty in a federal court on charges of conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent in the United States.

Butina, for those who may have forgotten about her, had presented herself as a young grad student, attending American University, in Washington, D.C., as well as a Russian gun rights activist.

She is the founder of Right to Bear Arms, a Russian gun rights group.

Meanwhile, however, reports suggest she was using that as a ruse, in order to gain access to American politics.

In particular, she sought to infiltrate the Republican party by becoming a fixture with groups like the National Rifle Association – an outfit heavily supported by the GOP.

From CNN:

Butina said she acted “under direction of” a Russian official whom CNN has identified as Alexander Torshin. “Butina sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over US politics,” the prosecutor said in court.

Torshin served as Butina’s patron in her American adventures.

He, himself, is a former Russian senator, who now serves as a deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank.

Butina, who initially clung to her innocence, said that her gun activism is what should have been the cause of her incarceration – in Russia, not the United States.

A story from the Associated Press back in September noted that neither Butina nor Torshin seemed particularly concerned that their gun rights activities would get them in trouble. They were both very open about their gun right beliefs, even on social media, where it would catch the most attention.

And they suffered no punishment for championing gun rights, even though many in Russia’s leadership see the idea as subversive.

“She was saying, ‘I always thought if I was going to be in jail, I’d be in jail in Russia for advocating for gun rights, and now I’m in jail in America for advocating better U.S.-Russian relations. There’s something kind of screwed up about that,’” said Robert Driscoll, Butina’s U.S. attorney.

Guns are tightly restricted in Russia, a country where extremist threats loom and organized crime and corruption fester. Civilians can own only hunting rifles and smoothbore firearms and must undergo significant background checks for those. Firearms advertising is illegal, and polls show most Russians are wary of looser gun laws.

You would think her pro-gun activities would raise some red flags with her government, but that apparently didn’t happen.

According to the FBI, the evidence they have against her suggests that both she and Torshin have connections to Russian intelligence.

Now, for those who are wondering, Butina’s case is not directly tied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Her Thursday guilty plea could result in five years in prison, and deportation, once she is freed.

On Wednesday,  the Russian government suggested that Butina’s rights had been violated, and that she was being tortured in an American prison.

This isn’t the case, of course, but the Russian government is all about creating false narratives.

And to re-up one of my mantras from the RS days:

Russia is not our friend!

Let’s just hope that once the Butina case concludes, along with Robert Mueller’s final report,  more people wake up to that fact.

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  • captcrisis

    Amazing as it would have
    been to anyone ten years ago, 40% of Americans are now objectively termed traitors. They would actually prefer being governed by a bought-and-paid-for Putin surrogate than by Hillary Clinton.

  • chemical

    This is pretty big news, but there is a key component missing: Butina’s boyfriend, Paul Erickson. He’s a Republican operative who’s also involved in this mess. The FBI raided his home and found some emails of him claiming to have set up a back channel to Russian oligarchs through the NRA. They also found evidence that the FSB offered Erickson a job. In addition, the NRA spent a record amount of money on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Also in addition, Butina hosted NRA former presidents, donors, and the like in Moscow, which is certainly a coincidence.

    Erickson and Butina are in a lot of trouble, but this may spell doom for the NRA, too. They may very well be the link between the Trump campaign and Russia.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    What evidence do you have the Hillary Clinton is not also a bought-and-paid for Putin surrogate ?

    Real, solid proof – not just your worship or belief….

    Indications ranging from the Uranium 1 scandal to Bill giving 500K speeches to the Russian audiences in Moscow indicate that Hilalry and Bill are every bit as much in the pocket of Putin as you liberals would like to claim Trump is.

    One major difference is that at least SOME in the GOP and conservative circles are willing to investigate Trump and his ties while there were no prominent Democrats (and very few among the Democrat voting base) willing to even entertain the notion that Hillary might have done anything worth investigating.

  • captcrisis

    Citations needed.

  • Barros Serrano

    You have nothing. One does not ask for negative proof. “Prove you weren’t having a gay orgy with space aliens last night.” You cannot.

    There is no evidence for collusion with a hostile foreign power on the part of Hillary Clinton. But for Trumpolini and all his cohorts, there is a lot of such evidence.

    You rightwing traitors want Hillary investigated for a dozen issues, but there is never anything there. What happened to Benghazi? LOL… right… nothing.

    But Trumpolini’s people are already being marched into prison. Clearly anyone supporting the Orange Fuhrer at this point is a traitor and should be treated as such… ostracized, reviled, rejected. That is how I will treat all of you henceforth.