Butina Pleads Guilty for Conspiring Against U.S.

The Russian woman that was arrested and charged earlier this year with acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government in the U.S. pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court after previously entering a plea of not guilty.

The 30-year-old, Maria Butina, admitted in the District Court for the District of Columbia that she and an American, known in court documents as “U.S. Person 1,” conspired with and acted under the direction of a Russian government official to establish unofficial lines of communications with people able to influence U.S. politics leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Kenerson said Butina sought to use those unofficial lines of communication for the benefit of the Russian Federation.

Butina’s attorneys have previously identified U.S. Person 1 as Paul Erickson, a GOP political operative with whom Butina had a romantic relationship.

The government’s description of the Russian official matched the credentials of Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank and former Russian senator who reportedly has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and alleged ties to the Russian mob, according to Bloomberg.

“Is what the government just read into the record correct,” Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee, asked Butina on Thursday after the government read aloud the details of her offense.

“Yes,” Butina said, standing in a green prison jumpsuit with her hands clasped behind her back.

The charges against Butina were brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, not special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with President Donald Trump campaign.

As part of the plea deal, Butina has agreed to cooperate with the American government in its investigations. She is the first Russian to be convicted of trying to influence American politics before the election.

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