Maria Butina sex-for-access text messages misinterpreted, federal prosecutors admit


Those efforts have included six consular visits with Butina, delivery of four diplomatic notes to the U.S. State Department, and direct complaints to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo by Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to a court filing.

In their latest filing, prosecutors argued that even if they had wrongly interpreted Butina's text messages to a friend, she should not be released from custody, because she was likely to flee the country.

While the gun-rights group was not identified, Butina's social media accounts show she attended many National Rifle Association events and met with top officials of the influential lobby group that has close ties to Republican politicians including President Donald Trump.

The individual, identified in court papers only as DK, had said in the text that he didn't know what Butina would owe him after he took her vehicle for an insurance renewal and government inspection.

It's unclear whether prosecutors intend to enter further evidence to attempt to prove that Butina traded sex for positions, but no new conversations were added to the record in Friday's filings.

Butina has been in federal custody since July, after the Justice Department accused her of working as an unregistered Russian agent in the US for several years. Since her arrest, they said, it has become even clearer that she was not simply a foreign graduate student with an interest in US politics, but a Russian operative. Her defense said she was merely networking to develop relationships with Americans.

Prosecutors had earlier accused Maria Butina, a gun rights activist in US custody on charges she worked as a covert agent and tried to establish back-channel lines of communication to the Kremlin, of offering to exchange sex for a position with a special interest organization. Thank you so much.

Driscoll argued in a filing last month that the allegation was a "sexist smear" that created the false impression Butina used sex as a spy tool. "Not a nickel to my name".

The judge also later said, "There is a very real risk of flight" with Butina.

The case is being handled by the US attorney for the District of Columbia and not by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been leading an investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign as well as Russian interference in the 2016 USA election.

Butina's lawyers have identified the Russian official as Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia's central bank who was hit with U.S. Treasury Department sanctions in April.

Butina is allegedly in a relationship with an American whom prosecutors call "Person 1".

US attorneys argued earlier this year that her connections resided primarily in Russian Federation, and raised concerns that she could flee the country and abandon her 56-year-old alleged boyfriend, GOP political operative Paul Erickson, a Republican consultant.