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Maria Butina update

What continues to enable Trump is the support of the GOP, so it’s important to keep track of what’s happening with Maria Butina, who was involved with the NRA and GOP.

In December 2018, Maria Butina [[1](https://www.businessinsider.com/maria-butina-russian-spy-sentencing-in-april-nra-2019-3?utm_source=reddit.com)] pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Russia. Her goal was to infiltrate the NRA.

She will be sentenced April 26; sentencing memos from prosecutors and her defense team are due a week prior. Her sentencing was delayed at the request of prosecutors, who said Butina was cooperating in their investigation.

Conservative GOP activist Paul Erickson [[2](https://abovethelaw.com/2018/12/maria-butina-plea-reminds-us-how-easy-it-is-to-turn-thirsty-men/)] was romantically linked to her and advised her on which American politicians to target for meetings.

Erickson tried to get Trump to meet Alexander Torshin when both attended the NRA’s convention in May 2016, referring to Torshin as “Putin’s emissary” in an email to a campaign official. (Torshin, who was a deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, has been identified as the Russian official involved in Butina’s case.) The campaign declined a meeting, but documents provided to Congress show Butina and Torshin met briefly during the event with Donald Trump Jr.

Separately, Erickson faces 11 counts of wire fraud and money laundering unrelated to the case against Butina. Erickson’s indictment appeared to make references to her when it said he made a payment of $8,000 to an “M.B.” in June 2015 and another payment of $1,000 to “M.B.” in March 2017, as well as more than $20,000 to American University in June 2017.

Butina told Torshin that she predicted a Republican presidential victory, and with her contacts and the NRA’s influence, she said, “she had laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration.”

The charges against Butina were not part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s now-concluded investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.

# Paul Whelan Update

Meanwhile, Paul Whelan [[3](https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kangaroo-court-american-arrested-on-spy-charges-in-russia-lashes-out/2019/03/14/b329056c-4644-11e9-90f0-0ccfeec87a61_story.html?utm_term=.6312144b26d7)], who appears to be collateral damage (“you nab one of our spies, we’ll nab one of yours”) remains in prison. It is unclear whether he is an actual spy or not, and since the FSB seized Whelan in his Moscow hotel room in late December, charging him with espionage, there have been no formal or public statements explaining what crime the Michigan resident is accused of committing.

Paul Whelan, an American citizen imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges, has sharply criticized the handling of his case and suggested he was being poorly treated at the Moscow prison where he has spent the past three months.

“This is a kangaroo court,” Whelan, 49, told reporters from inside a glass enclosure in a Moscow court, where a judge upheld a decision to keep the former Marine behind bars through late May.

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[1] [https://www.businessinsider.com/maria-butina-russian-spy-sentencing-in-april-nra-2019-3?utm_source=reddit.com](https://www.businessinsider.com/maria-butina-russian-spy-sentencing-in-april-nra-2019-3?utm_source=reddit.com)

[2] [https://abovethelaw.com/2018/12/maria-butina-plea-reminds-us-how-easy-it-is-to-turn-thirsty-men/](https://abovethelaw.com/2018/12/maria-butina-plea-reminds-us-how-easy-it-is-to-turn-thirsty-men/)

[3] [https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kangaroo-court-american-arrested-on-spy-charges-in-russia-lashes-out/2019/03/14/b329056c-4644-11e9-90f0-0ccfeec87a61_story.html?utm_term=.6312144b26d7](https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kangaroo-court-american-arrested-on-spy-charges-in-russia-lashes-out/2019/03/14/b329056c-4644-11e9-90f0-0ccfeec87a61_story.html?utm_term=.6312144b26d7)

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