The Slatest

Russian Accused of Infiltrating NRA, GOP Will Apparently Plead Guilty (But It’s Not Clear What It Means for Trump)

Butina, who has red hair, stares at the camera.
Maria Butina in a police booking photo released by the Alexandria, Virginia sheriff’s office in August.
Alexandria Sheriff’s Office/Handout via Reuters

In July, a Russian woman named Maria Butina was indicted for what the FBI described as a successful effort to “infiltrate” the National Rifle Association and Republican Party on behalf of the Russian state. Butina had lived and worked in the U.S. under her real name, engaging in activities you might describe as networking and informal lobbying, and didn’t hide her past connections to the Russian government; the feds, however, alleged that she broke the law by not formally registering as a foreign agent and implied that she may have specifically worked on the behalf of Russian intelligence services. It wasn’t clear when Butina was indicted whether she was believed to have actually done anything more nefarious than cultivating relationships between American right-wingers and Russian nationalists, nor was it clear whether her work had any specific connection to Russia’s pro-Trump hacking and propaganda campaign in 2016.

According to a new court filing Monday, Butina has reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with investigators. We still don’t know whether her case has anything to do with Trump; we do know that the agreement exists and that lawyers are due in court Wednesday to discuss it:

So … see you Wednesday!

*Update, Dec. 10, 2018: This post has been updated with additional information about the crime Maria Butina was charged with and her cooperation with investigators.