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Russia Narrative Decimated: Alleged Russian Spy Had Special Meeting with Obama Admin in 2015

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The alleged Russian female spy who was arrested the same day as President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, met with two top Obama administration officials in 2015.

Based on several people familiar with the sessions and an account prepared by the Washington, D.C., think tank that arranged them, Reuters reported that in April 2015, then-Treasury undersecretary for international affairs Nathan Sheets and then Federal Reserve vice chairman Stanley Fischer met with the alleged 29-year-old Russian spy Maria Butina and Russian Central Bank Deputy Governor Alexander Torshin.

Butina traveled to the U.S. with Torshin, her boss, for separate meetings with Fischer and Sheets arranged by the Center for the National Interest “to discuss U.S.-Russian economic relations during Democratic former President Barack Obama’s administration.”

She reportedly acted as a translator during the meetings.

Federal prosecutors charged Butina last week with conspiring against the U.S. and acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia.

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Butina’s attorney Robert Driscoll told CNN on Friday that the case against his client is “pretty thin gruel.”

Do you think the timing of the charges brought against Butina is suspicious?

CNN host Anderson Cooper read the attorney several Twitter direct messages that Butina had allegedly sent to Torshin, including one where she wrote, “I’m ready for further orders” after Trump’s victory in November 2016.

“I think that, like most of the government’s case, is taken completely out of context,” Driscoll said. “Those Twitter DMs — which, by the way, most Russian spies don’t communicate by Twitter DM — which are unencrypted, there’s thousands of them. … There’s Twitter DMs about picking up toothpaste in America. There’s DMs with pictures of kids and dogs and everything else.”

“I think that for a woman who’s been under surveillance for the better part of two years, it’s pretty thin gruel to find a two-year-old … message and say that that proves she’s a spy. Most spies do things. She didn’t seek nuclear submarine plans, she didn’t try to recruit any agents, she didn’t pay anyone any money,” the attorney added.

Driscoll argued in court last week that his client is not a flight risk, noting Butina voluntarily testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in April and remained in the country after 15 FBI agents searched her apartment that same month. She is currently being held in a Washington. D.C. jail.

According to The New York Times, federal prosecutors are alleging that Butina was engaged in an influence campaign run by Torshin, who has ties to Putin.

Central to the Department of Justice’s case against Butina is her failure to register as a foreign agent.

The Russian was in the U.S. on a student visa, which she obtained in 2016, graduating from American University in May.

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Prosecutors allege her status as a student was just a cover as she built a network of political connections in the United States, particularly within the National Rifle Association.

She is a founder of the Russian gun rights group, “The Right to Bear Arms,” which Torshin supported. The Russian banker is a lifetime member of the NRA, The Washington Post reported.

Butina attended multiple Conservative Political Action Conferences and even appeared in a question and answer session at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas in July 2015, where she asked the recently announced candidate Trump his views on sanctions against Russia.

“I know Putin and I’ll tell you what, we get along with Putin,” the candidate said. “I don’t think you’d need the sanctions.”

Of course, since taking office, Trump has added sanctions and expelled dozens of Russian diplomats.

The Russian government has called the charges against Butina “fabricated” and is pushing for her release.

The Russian embassy tweeted on Saturday that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by phone about the matter.

The timing of the DOJ bringing charges against Butina in the midst of the Helsinki Summit does seem suspect, but if it was meant to accentuate Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, in this case, that string goes all the way back to the administration of Barack Obama.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Birthplace
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated dean's list from West Point
Education
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith




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