As the most reliable and balanced news aggregation service on the internet, DML News offers the following information published by NYTimes.com:

WASHINGTON — A Russian woman who tried to broker a pair of secret meetings between candidate Donald J. Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, during the 2016 presidential campaign, was charged Monday and accused of carrying out a secret Russian effort to influence American politics.

The Justice Department said in court documents that the woman, Mariia Butina, worked to establish “back channel” lines of communication with American politicians. “These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation.”

Ms. Butina, whose first name is more commonly spelled Maria, twice tried to set up a meetings between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin in 2016. The charges announced Monday do not name Mr. Trump but they make clear that Ms. Butina’s overtures were part of a Russian intelligence operation.

The article goes on to state the following:

The charges were filed by Justice Department national security prosecutors, not the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whom Mr. Trump has accused of carrying out a witch hunt.

Below is the full press release from the Department of Justice website:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 16, 2018

Russian National Charged in Conspiracy to Act as an Agent of the Russian Federation Within the United States

A criminal complaint was unsealed today in the District of Columbia charging a Russian national with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Maria Butina, 29, a Russian citizen residing in Washington D.C., was arrested on July 15, 2018, in Washington, D.C., and made her initial appearance this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was ordered held pending a hearing set for July 18, 2018.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank.  This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.

The court filings detail the Russian official’s and Butina’s efforts for Butina to act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation. The filings also describe certain actions taken by Butina to further this effort during multiple visits from Russia and, later, when she entered and resided in the United States on a student visa. The filings allege that she undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law.

The charges in criminal complaints are merely allegations and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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