An attorney for accused Russian spy Mariia “Maria” Butina claims that his client’s conversations with her alleged handler Alexander Torshin have been taken out of context by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Appearing on CNN’s Anderson Cooper: 360 on Friday night, attorney Robert Driscoll was asked about a series of direct messages sent via Twitter. The host brought up one allegedly untoward exchange in particular. Cooper said:
The government laid out a long list of communications that they say prove your client, Mariia Butina, was a spy. And I want to read one between her and the Russian official she was communicating with immediately after Donald Trump won the election. She writes, quote, “I’m going to sleep. It’s 3 am here. I am ready for further orders.” The Russian official says, “Think about in which areas of life we could towards bringing us closer. ISIS–understandably, what else we need to look at the American agenda.”
After that seemingly damning recitation, Cooper asked Butina’s attorney, “So, you say your client isn’t a Russian spy. How do you explain–I mean why is she asking for ‘further orders’?”
To which Driscoll replied:
I think that, like most of the government’s case, is taken completely out of context. Those Twitter direct messages–which by the way, most Russian spies don’t communicate by Twitter direct messages, which are unencrypted–there’s thousands of them between Alexander Torshin and Mariia over years period. They were gun rights advocates together and they were friends.
Driscoll continued, noting that Butina and Torshin did just about everything under the sun via their DMs. He said, “There’s Twitter direct messages about picking up toothpaste in America. There’s direct messages with pictures of kids and dogs and everything else. And they both had an affinity for better American-Russian relations. But that certainly wasn’t the purpose of her trip to the U.S.–it was something they discussed once in awhile.”
Torshin has been wanted in Spain on allegations of organized crime and money laundering since 2013.
[image via screengrab/CNN]