Maria Butina, the alleged Russian operative who reportedly got close to powerful Republican figures, has pleaded guilty to committing conspiracy on behalf of her home nation. Butina will fully cooperate with federal prosecutors in the matter.
NBC News reports:
Butina, 30, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the law governing foreign agents operating in the United States, a felony that carries a five-year prison term. The estimated sentencing guideline range is from zero to six months in prison. As a noncitizen, she would face deportation after serving any prison sentence.
The filing makes no mention of an allegation the government made in July — that Butina offered sex in exchange for a job. Butina has been held in jail without bail. She currently has a plea hearing scheduled for Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
According to the documents, Butina — a former graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C. — will admit to conspiring with an unnamed American to act at the direction of a Russian official “to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics…for the benefit of the Russian Federation.”
The outlet adds Butina was in a relationship with Republican activist Paul Erickson. She was also allegedly working under the direction of Alexander Torshin, a recently-retired deputy governor of the Russsian central Bank. Torshin reportedly had dinner with Donald Trump Jr. and facilitated a potential meeting between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump.
This case is not related to Robert Mueller’s investigation.