Russian spy Maria Butina details how she played Republicans and conservative groups on behalf of Kremlin
Maria Butina, who has been indicted on charges of being a Russian agent. (Pavel Starikov/Flickr)

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.

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.

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.