Accused Russian Spy Maria Butina Requests Change of Plea Hearing

Russian operative Maria Butina, who was arrested in July after allegedly working on behalf of the Kremlin to manipulate U.S. conservatives and had close ties to the NRA, has requested a change of plea hearing, which suggests that "she's reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors."
Butina, a former American University student, has reportedly been in talks to strike a plea deal with investigators. She has been in jail since her initial arrest. As ABC News previously reported, Butina allegedly touted her access to "high-ranking Kremlin officials" including President Vladimir Putin, and worked to set up a meeting between top-level NRA members and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. She also allegedly infiltrated a Washington, D.C., think tank, and formed close relationships with a series of high-level American conservatives.
If you're not familiar with Butina, this is a good read from Denise Clifton and Mark Follman at Mother Jones: The Very Strange Case of Two Russian Gun Lovers, the NRA, and Donald Trump. And this is also good, from Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier at BuzzFeed: Here Is the Money Trail from the Russian Agent and Her Republican Partner.

So, what does this mean? Well, I'm not certain. But I will note that, given the proclivities of Putin's traitors to get themselves dead, Butina would be taking a huge risk if she were cutting a deal with U.S. prosecutors without his consent. She's also the best positioned at the moment to bring down Jr., so there is certainly reason to consider that Putin could be orchestrating this. Her request to change her plea and make a deal is, at minimum, a public threat to Trump's son.

And it could be far more significant. It could mean that Putin is done with Trump. That may sound impossible, but there's also this: The fact that the NRA's donations have plummeted suggests that Russia is discarding Trump. And the fact that donations to white conservative evangelical orgs were up in the 2018 cycle could mean they're moving on to Pence.

(Related Reading: How Much of the NRA's Money Funding Republicans Came from Russia? NB: "If Russian moneymen are laundering money through white conservative evangelical Christian groups in the U.S., just as they're seemingly laundering money through the NRA, no one was better positioned to officiate that hideous marriage than Pence.")

I realize that speculation may seem far-reaching, but it's important to understand how dedicated the Kremlin is to playing the long game. Also in the news today, for example: "The Kremlin launched a year-long disinformation campaign to soften up public opinion before its recent seizure of three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Sea of Azov, the EU's security commissioner has alleged." This is sophisticated, long-term gamespersonship.

I don't know exactly at what I'm looking yet, but I do know that it's highly unlikely to be as simple as it seems.

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