The affidavit in the Butina case describes several steps the 29-year-old alleged Russian agent took to reach the Republican Party through the NRA, to host dinners between Russians and Americans, and to infiltrate the National Prayer Breakfast and other political conferences in 2016 and 2017.
Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said Butina's arrest was a Russophobic backlash against the positive talks between Mr Trump and Mr Putin in Helsinki.
Maria Butina was arrested Sunday and charged as a Russian government operative attempting to carry out a secret effort to influence American politics. In addition, she worked as an assistant to the deputy chairman of the Russian Central Bank, Alexander Torshin, the former member of the Federation Council, the member of the Putin's political party allegedly associated with the Russian underworld.
The announcement of Butina's arrest comes three days after 12 Russian intelligence operatives were indicted by a United States grand jury for hacking Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.
The government claims that between 2015 and February 2017 Butina "worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government", who was sanctioned by the U.S. in April 2018. In one early exchange, Butina emailed the USA person in 2015 describing what she called the "central place and influence" the NRA enjoys in an unnamed political party as the "largest sponsor of the elections to the United States congress, as well as a sponsor of The CPAC conference and other events".
Butina is behind bars, pending a hearing set for July 18, 2018. According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, Butina is due to appear before Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
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Trump Jr. testified to lawmakers past year that he briefly met Torshin at a dinner with a few dozen officials from the NRA.
At a party in November 2016, Butina claimed that she was involved with the Trump campaign's communications with Russian Federation.
Court papers do not name the Kremlin official. She was reportedly very involved with gun rights groups in D.C., including the NRA, and conspired to use one of these groups as a conduit to facilitate communication between a USA political party and the Kremlin. "We made our bet".
The arrest of Butina is the most dramatic development yet in the government's investigation of the NRA's relationship with Russian Federation. Other media reported on a business relationship between Butina and Torshin.
Trump later said he knows the Russian president.
Sen. Ron Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, responded to the indictment Monday afternoon by sending a letter to the NRA questioning its relationship with Russian nationals. She was in contact with an organizer of the 2017 event, who met with her and the Russian official in Moscow, according to communications cited in the affidavit.