Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa told CNN on Thursday that because Russian spy Maria Butina didn’t have diplomatic cover, she may well have been under FISA surveillance, spelling trouble for anyone to whom she may have spoken.
Rangappa said that Russian election interference boiled down to a political influence campaign operating on “a number of different fronts”, from disinformation spread through social media to hacking the DNC. “It’s when spies are acting fairly overtly, she said, “and essentially trying to court, recruit, assess people who may be able to then influence policy towards Russia.”
“Two things that stand out to me here, most spies are here under diplomatic cover precisely so if they get caught, they have diplomatic immunity,” Rangappa continued. “Maria Butina was here without diplomatic cover so she’s caught in the cross hairs of criminal prosecution.”
“If the government has evidence that she was acting at the direction and control of Russia, that makes her an agent of a foreign power, which means she would have been a legitimate target for FISA surveillance,” she added. “Anyone talking to her at that time would be captured on that as well. I agree with [CNN analyst Jack Quinn] that there could be many other people who should be concerned at this point.”
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