A major development in the federal investigation into the National Rifle Association’s 2016 political activities just unfolded when court records showed that someone who could become a key witness against the gun rights group just asked a judge for more time to work out a plea deal.
Federal prosecutors in Washington DC. and lawyers for accused Russian spy Maria Butina filed the joint motion today in order to head off a series of motions and hearings.
She has been reported to be cooperating with prosecutors since July, but today’s filing indicates that a final deal is likely imminent, especially since lawyers for Butina withdrew her motion to dismiss the criminal charges tonight as well.
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Looks like Maria Butina is negotiating with prosecutors. pic.twitter.com/mkpyxhwYqv
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) November 16, 2018
In September, prosecutors wrote in a court filing that Butina was beginning to cooperate against her “boyfriend,” longtime Republican insider Paul Erickson. That motion led to her continued incarceration without bail in the same prison where Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was held awaiting trial.
Maria Butina is accused of conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Russia while attending graduate studies at American University in D.C. Instead of just “studying” American politics, Maria Butina dove right in, guiding her gun lobby group “Right to Bear Arms” into the highest circles of the NRA while assisting a Russian government official.
Butina’s boyfriend reportedly “contacted people on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with an offer to set up a back-channel relationship with the Russian government via the National Rifle Association.”
Senate Democrats are watching the case closely as part of their investigation into the NRA’s Russian dealings after the “gun rights” group plowed a record $30 million into supporting Donald Trump’s Republican campaign for President.
One of Maria Butina’s American University professors, Anton Fedyashin, appears to be her handler, according to a top Russian scholar.
She served Russian Central Banker Alexander Torshin as a special assistant while he attended the NRA’s annual meetings, which culminated in a trip to Moscow which introduced high ranking NRA officials and former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke to sanctioned Russian official Dimitri Rogozin. Rogozin used to run an anti-Semitic political party before joining Putin’s administration.
Butina attended dinners setup with some of the GOP’s wealthiest donors, in addition to NRA fundraising dinners, and tried to link up Americans with ORSIS, a Russian gun manufacturer that makes a weapon which can pierce every known body armor and which the U.S. Army considers a strategic threat.
It has been a dismal year for the National Rifle Association, whose latest headlines involve their employees freaking out now that they can’t even afford a coffee machine in their office anymore. But it’s a real sign of progress that the NRA’s cash flows have been sharply curtailed after New York regulators cracked down on insurance companies working illegally with the maniacal gun promotion company to sell “murder insurance.”
The NRA’s leadership has to be as anxious as President Trump has been after hearing tonight’s news that prosecutors and Maria Butina are nearing a plea deal, combined with their earlier statements that the Russian agent was giving them information.
Here’s Butina’s motion to withdraw her attempts to dismiss the case: