Maria Butina, alleged Russian agent, convicted

Maria+Butina%2C+alleged+Russian+agent%2C+convicted

Riley Geyer

Maria Butina, and alleged Russian agent, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday, April 26. According to NPR, she “plotted to infiltrate conservative political circles and open backchannel lines of communication as part of an unofficial influence campaign”.

She pled guilty in December to one count of conspiracy charges. Butina admitted to using her contacts in the GOP, the National Rifle Association, and the National Prayer Breakfast to promote the relationship between the US and Russia.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ordered the 18-month sentence. Butina will be deported to Russia after serving her sentence.

At her hearing, Butina seemed full of regret, fear, and sadness, according to sources close to her. She says she regrets this, and in spite of her attempt to build a relationship between the two countries, her crime has made things worse.

As part of her plea deal, Butina has cooperated immensely with the government. She spoke about her boyfriend,¬†GOP political operative Paul Erickson, and his involvement with her scheme. Erickson has not yet been charged. However, according to CNN, “Erickson was indicted in February on wire fraud and money laundering charges in a separate case in South Dakota”.

Butina is the first Russian agent to be charged with crimes relating to the 2016 election. However, she was not mentioned in the Mueller Report.

LHS senior, Sara Bitter, is not surprised that there was at least one Russian agent involved in the 2016 election. “The GOP is too close to Russia; we need a further investigation.”