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Maria Butina sex scandal concocted by Russian media as distraction from spy charges

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Russian media figures are preparing viewers for sexual revelations about accused spy Maria Butina, according to a media monitor.

The 30-year-old Butina recently pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy against the United States, which she told the court came under the direction of Russian official Alexander Torshin, and Russian state-owned TV appears to be deeply concerned about what she has told U.S. investigators, wrote analyst Julia Davis for The Daily Beast.

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Davis said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, falsely claimed that Butina was facing 15 years in prison and confessed under medieval torture.

“Under these conditions, you can make anyone admit to anything,” Zakharova told Rossiya-1. “You will admit that you’re a Japanese spy, a Chinese spy, or a medieval witch that tried to stir up a storm in Washington.”

Russia state media outlets have interviewed Butina’s parents in an apparent effort to show she presented herself as a spy and seductress without actually being either, and TV hosts have offered unconventional theories to explain her actions.

“What if her intentions were purely sexual?” wondered Channel One host Andrey Malakhov. “Couldn’t that be the case? Some people like to sleep with famous athletes and some with politicians. She came there and wanted to meet them, that’s all.”

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Former friends and colleagues have shared photos of Butina in her younger days, wearing frumpy clothes and an unstylish brown mullet hairstyle, but some former associates say she may have been recorded making false boasts about working as a spy.

“She’s paying the price for whatever she blabbed about,” said Pavel Tulin, a former colleague at the Public Chamber Council of Altai Krai.

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Mulvaney’s ‘astonishing public act of legal self-destruction’ can be used against Trump: ex-prosecutor

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In the opening segment on CNN's "New Day," former prosecutor Elie Honig claimed he was stunned by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's press conference on Thursday, saying he just handed prosecutors all they need to go after President Donald Trump.

Speaking with hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman, the former prosecutor  could only describe Mulvaney's presser, where he admitted that the administration was indulging in quid pro quo negotiations with foreign governments to get dirt on political opponents, as an "astonishing public act of legal and strategic self-destruction."

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Why key Senate Republicans should be terrified as Trump drags the party down

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Incumbent Republican senators in swing states and blue states find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, criticizing President Donald Trump can result in a burdensome GOP primary battle; on the other hand, being perceived as pro-Trump can be the kiss of death in places where Trump is unpopular. And according to a report by Eli Yokley for Morning Consult’s website, things aren’t getting any better for incumbent GOP senators who are considered vulnerable in the 2020 election.

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‘It was nutso’: Devin Nunes reportedly made himself look ridiculous by obsessing over the Steele Dossier in Ukraine hearing

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While the House Intelligence Committee is spearheading impeachment with its investigation into President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, it seems Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California can’t stop obsessing about the Steele Dossier.

According to the Daily Beast, the ranking member of the committee launched into an exchange during the closed impeachment inquiry hearings about the dossier on Thursday with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal. He was a point person in Trump’s efforts to get the Ukrainians to announce an investigation into the 2016 election as well as former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for favorable treatment from the White House.

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