Russian Mariia Butina charged as foreign agent who eyed NRA, pols

…The FBI said in court papers Butina sought to establish relationships with a “gun rights organization.” The organization was not named but a senior U.S. official confirmed it was the National Rifle Association, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

…Butina also attended the National Prayer Breakfast in 2016 and 2017 and told an unidentified American that the other Russians there were handpicked by her and Torshin and “are coming to establish a back channel of communication,” the FBI wrote.

A criminal complaint shows that the FBI obtained Twitter messages and emails between Torshin and Butina in which they plotted strategy.

…The unsealing of the charges against Butina came within hours of a stunning press conference in Helsinki in which President Donald Trump refused to say he accepted the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community over Putin’s denials that Russian had meddled in the election.

Butina is a gun-rights advocate who cozied up to conservatives in the nation’s capital. In February 2017, the Daily Beast reported that she was close to Republican activist Paul Erickson, who appeared at her birthday party months earlier dressed as Rasputin. Public records show she and Erickson registered a corporation in South Dakota together in 2016.

Russian Mariia Butina charged as foreign agent who eyed NRA, pols



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