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White House: Being Redheaded Does Not Make Someone A Russian Spy

White House: Being Redheaded Does Not Make Someone A Russian Spy

Law enforcement officials then became concerned that Butina appeared to be planning to leave the Washington area and made a decision to seek charges and make an arrest, according to people familiar with the case. In 2015, she was recorded at the libertarian FreedomFest in Las Vegas asking a question to then-presidential candidate Trump about economic sanctions against Russian Federation.

Butina is also well-connected to wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy, according to prosecutors who allege her Twitter messages, chat logs, and emails refer to a known Russian businessman with deep ties to Putin's administration and who was listed in Forbes as having a net worth of US$1.2 billion.

Her attorney, Robert Driscoll, has said she is not a Russian agent and poses no flight risk, after she was arrested on Sunday without warning.

They also spoke on January 20, 2017 when Butina sent the official a photo of her near the US Capitol on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. However, her social media accounts show she attended many National Rifle Association events and met with many top officials of the lobbying group.

"But this relationship does not represent a strong tie to the United States because Butina appears to treat it as simply a necessary aspect of her activities", the document said.

In a court filing calling for Butina's pre-trial detention, prosecutors disclosed Butina's alleged ties to Russian intelligence.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents served a search warrant on Butina's residence in April, her lawyer, Robert Neil Driscoll, said in court Monday, and he insisted that Butina "has been offering to cooperate with the government the entire time". However, one appears to be Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator and deputy central banker who has been part of a years-long campaign to build connections between Russia's leaders and American conservatives.

Maria Butina with envoy Alexander Torshin
Image Maria Butina with envoy Alexander Torshin

Ms Butina, who founded a pro-gun Russian advocacy group called Right to Bear Arms, has not been charged with espionage or with being a member of a Russian intelligence service.

"Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns, I've been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key POLITICAL PARTY 1 leaders through, of all conduits, the [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION]", he wrote.

In court documents filed earlier Wednesday, the feds allege that Butina dated a 56-year-old American man - believed to be South Dakota GOP strategist Paul Erickson - for his connections to the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association and also offered another USA citizen sex in exchange for a position in a "special interest organization".

Prosecutors also detailed texts between the official and Butina in which the official compares her with Anna Chapman and asks if fans want her autographs yet.

Butina's involvement in US political affairs has also extended beyond the pro-gun camp.

Butina allegedly arranged dinners in Washington and NY and tried to develop relationships with American politicians to establish "back channel" lines of communication to "penetrate the US national decision-making apparatus", the Justice Department's complaint said. In 2015, a collection of NRA officials flew over to Russian Federation to attend Butina's annual gun conference, the Right to Bear Arms, details of which were included in a report from Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence made public on March 26. This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.

Like Chapman, prosecutors say Butina used sex appeal to further her aims.

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