In another extraordinary development in the Trump-Russia investigation, alleged Russian spy Maria Butina has officially moved today to withdraw her “not guilty” plea – meaning she’s cut a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
Butina is accused of trying to infiltrate Republican political circles and party leaders during the 2016 campaign in order to advance Russian interests, and prosecutors have said the former American University student was in touch with politically powerful Russians about her activities in the US.
We don’t yet know what details are spelled out in her plea deal, but we don’t necessarily need to, because we already know a lot about who and what she’s giving up.
Sources with knowledge of her decision say Butina will give up the NRA for having taken Russian money and distributed it to the Trump campaign and the Republican Party. She’ll also give up the specific Republican politicians she was conspiring with along the way. She has no inherent loyalty to any of them, and this is an easy way to reduce her sentence. The big question is whether she’ll also give up dirt on the specific Kremlin government officials she was conspiring with on the Russia end, as she could feel loyal to them (she’s a Russian citizen), or simply fear them. But that part may not matter as much.
If Donald Trump is already having a hard time trying to spin last week’s two campaign finance felonies, just wait until it’s confirmed that Russia was funding his campaign through the NRA.
Butina has been in jail since her arrest for illegally acting as a foreign agent.