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Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to coordinating with Russians — and will cooperate with prosecutors

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Accused Russian agent Maria Butina appeared poised this week to plead guilty in the case, after her lawyers and prosecutors filed a joint motion asking a federal judge on Monday to schedule a change of plea hearing this week.

The filing comes after Butina’s attorney and prosecutors revealed last month they were actively in talks to settle the case.

Butina had previously pleaded not guilty to charges that she was acting as an agent of the Russian government and conspiring to take actions on Russia’s behalf.

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Specifically, prosecutors have accused the former American University graduate student of working with a Russian official and two U.S. citizens to try to infiltrate the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobby group that has close ties to Republican politicians including President Donald Trump, and influence American foreign policy toward Russia.

Butina’s lawyers previously identified the Russian official with whom she was accused of working as Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who was hit with U.S. Treasury Department sanctions in April.

They identified one of the two Americans mentioned in the criminal complaint as being Paul Erickson, a conservative U.S. political activist who was dating Butina. Neither Erickson nor Torshin have been accused by prosecutors of wrongdoing.

Butina has been in jail since her arrest in July.

In the joint motion filed Monday morning, prosecutors and defense lawyers proposed holding a hearing sometime between Tuesday and Thursday of this week.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Susan Thomas


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Devin Nunes ‘needs a hug’: Impeachment viewers ridicule Republicans as their witnesses’ testimony backfires

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Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Micahel Turner (R-OH) complained in the open House Intelligence Committee Tuesday that the hearings were going longer and Democrats were adding time to the 45 minutes they'd reserved for each side to question witnesses.

In past hearings run by Republicans, the questioning was cut significantly short, where Democrats are allowing for as many minutes as needed for both sides. It's unknown why Nunes was so concerned about the time, he claimed that people were turning off their televisions, which is contrary to what has been reported about the ratings for the hearings, which have doubled.

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Trump pardoned Edward Gallagher for war crimes — but the Navy is still ousting him from the SEALs: report

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The acceptability of committing war crimes while in uniform is putting the U.S. Navy on a collision course with President Donald Trump's White House.

"The Navy SEAL at the center of a high-profile war crimes case has been ordered to appear before Navy leaders Wednesday morning, and is expected to be notified that the Navy intends to oust him from the elite commando force," The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing "two Navy officials."

"The move could put the SEAL commander, Rear Adm. Collin Green, in direct conflict with President Trump, who last week cleared the sailor, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, of any judicial punishment in the war crimes case. Military leaders opposed that action as well as Mr. Trump’s pardons of two soldiers involved in other murder cases," the newspaper reported.

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Climate groups applaud Gavin Newsom’s temporary fracking ban in California, but say other ‘critical next steps’ still needed

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"Relentless organizing" by climate action groups across California forced the governor to call for a moratorium on fracking, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said.

Anti-fracking advocates were cautiously optimistic Tuesday after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a moratorium on fracking in the state and new steps to mitigate the disastrous public health effects that extractive industries have on communities.

Author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben credited "relentless organizing" with pressuring the Democratic governor to ban—at least temporarily—the high-pressure steam injection central to the fracking process and pledge to reverse the increase in drilling permits that's taken place under Newsom's administration.

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