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Russian spy Maria Butina details how she played Republicans and conservative groups on behalf of Kremlin

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Accused Russian spy Maria Butina revealed she was cooperating with U.S. investigators when she pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

The 30-year-old Russian national pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of conspiring to act as an agent for the Russian government in the United States.

Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., cultivated close ties to the National Rifle Association and the conservative movement.

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She admitted to conspiring with Republican operative Paul Erickson and a Russian official, believed to be banker Alexander Torshin, to establish unofficial links between political figures in the U.S. and Russia that would benefit the Kremlin.

Torshin reportedly sought a meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and then-GOP candidate Donald Trump, and he met with Donald Trump Jr. in May 2016 at an NRA dinner in Louisville, Kentucky.

Court documents show Butina worked to established ties with both the NRA and the Republican Party, and she helped set up a visit to Moscow by NRA members in December 2015.

She also organized a Russian delegation to the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington and hosted “friendship dinners” to establish closer ties to American conservatives and Russian officials.

Butina can also be seen on video asking then-candidate Trump about U.S. sanctions against Russia during a July 2015 Freedom Festival event in Las Vegas.

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Prosecutors during the plea hearing said Butina’s cooperation was “ongoing.”

She will remain jailed until her sentencing, and Butina faces deportation after serving a prison term.

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GOP leader McCarthy swats aside Fiona Hill’s national security testimony debunking his Ukraine conspiracy theory

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On Thursday, during one of the final scheduled impeachment hearings this week, National Security Council official Fiona Hill demolished President Donald Trump's conspiracy theory that Ukraine, rather than Russia, meddled in the 2016 election, calling it a "fictional narrative" and noting that it originated with the Kremlin itself.

But in conversation with reporters, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) flatly disbelieved Hill's testimony, and insisted he still held onto the theory.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told me that he was not going to lose any GOP votes during impeachment.

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Nicolle Wallace breaks down the impeachment moment ‘women will be talking about for years’

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MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace on Thursday highlighted one of the key moments from the impeachment inquiry testimony from Dr. Fiona Hill.

"Often when women show anger, it’s not fully appreciated. It’s often, you know, pushed onto emotional issues perhaps, or deflected on other people," Hill testified.

Here's Fiona Hill on why she thinks Sondland misunderstood her anger — and how women's anger is often viewed, more generally: "It's not fully appreciated. It's often pushed off onto emotional issues." pic.twitter.com/AsMR3A9InI

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Mulvaney lawyer denies Mick was ‘so heavily involved’ — despite his White House briefing room confession

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Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was referenced multiple times during Dr. Fiona Hill's testimony Thursday, but Mulvaney's lawyer said he doesn't understand why.

"We have no idea why Ms. Hill believes Mr. Mulvaney was so heavily involved, especially in light of Ambassador Sondland’s contrary testimony," said Fox News reporter Chad Pergram, quoting a statement from Robert Driscoll.

https://twitter.com/ChadPergram/status/1197633921065930753

As former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance pointed out, Hill recalled during her testimony how angry she was about Sondland not briefing her. She said that after hearing his testimony Wednesday and learning he was briefing Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Mulvaney and President Donald Trump. She then decided he was correct-they had separate missions and Sondland was on a domestic political errand.

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