Russian with NRA ties traded sex for political influence, prosecutors say

Alleged spy Maria Butina lived with a Republican political operative who offered to set up a back channel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin
July 18, 2018, 3:30pm

Tucked into a court filing that prosecutors made public on Wednesday are a bunch of new revelations about Maria Butina, the alleged Russian spy who was arrested in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

Prosecutors claim the 29-year-old Russian national connected to high-profile members of the National Rifle Association was in regular contact with the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency that took the place of the Soviet-era KGB, over several years. She’d been living in D.C., where she recently got a degree from American University. Prosecutors claim, too, that she traded sex for influence and dated a Republican political operative (whom she complained about in her private correspondences).

Butina is accused of trying to make inroads into the Republican Party through the NRA to advance Russian interests in U.S. politics, with subsequent charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent added after her arrest. In 2015, she managed to ask then-presidential candidate Donald Trump a question on the campaign trail, set up a trip to Moscow for NRA members through her nonprofit, and arranged for meetings with political insiders in New York and Washington.

Included in the filing is this gem, an exchange between Butina and an unnamed Russian diplomat believed to also be a Russian spy, where he compares her to Anna Chapman, the Russian spy turned model.

“You have upstaged Anna Chapman: She poses with toy pistols, while you are being published with real ones,” the official said, according to the filing.

Chapman, of course, is the spy who was arrested in New York in 2011 and sent back to Russia in a high-profile spy swat. She used her own notoriety to kick-start her modeling career.

This same official also called Butina a “daredevil girl” after she sent him a picture of her posing in front of the U.S. Capitol.

Butina had a relationship with someone referred to in the filing only as “US Person 1,” an older man whom she tried to lived with but complained about to her co-workers. The Washington Post has identified this person as Paul Erickson, the longtime Republican political operative who offered to set up a back channel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, according to the New York Times.

Butina “offered him sex in exchange for a position in a special interest organization,” the filing says. Meanwhile, in her private communications, she “expressed disdain” for having to continue to live with him.

But at least she got something else out of her relationship with him: He did her homework for her. The filing says that text messages obtained by the FBI show that Butina regularly asked “US Person 1” to edit her term papers and solicited answers for exam questions from him.

The filing details her ties to a Russian worth approximately $1.2 billion, who was also referred to as her “funder.”

You can read the full filing below:

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