Alleged Russian Operative Maria Butina Met with American Political Operatives in 2016

The Department of Justice on Monday unsealed a criminal complaint charging Maria Butina, 29, with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation while operating from within the United States without proper registration.

According to a criminal complaint, Butina entered the United States on a student visa. The complaint alleges she met with at least two American political operatives. The first operative allegedly put her in contact with a “gun rights organization” after a Moscow meeting in 2013. The DOJ complaint does not identify the organization, but others are saying it was the National Rifle Association. The second operative allegedly set her up with a series of “friendship and dialogue dinners” in both Washington, D.C. and New York City which involved “Russian nationals and U.S. persons having influence in American politics” in 2016 and 2017.

The DOJ says Butina’s goal was “infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics . . . for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation.”

[This is a breaking news piece. It will be updated as we continue to read through the complaint.]

Aaron Keller is an attorney licensed in two states. He holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. During law school, he completed legal residencies in the Office of the New Hampshire Attorney General and in a local prosecutor’s office. He was employed as a summer associate in the New Hampshire Department of Safety, which manages the state police, and further served as a summer law clerk for a New York trial judge. Before law school, Keller worked for television stations in New York and in the Midwest, mostly as an evening news anchor and investigative reporter. His original reporting on the Wisconsin murder of Teresa Halbach was years later featured in the Netflix film "Making A Murderer."

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