In possible plea deal, accused Russian agent case resolved

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When we learned that accused Russian agent Maria Butina reached a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors on Monday, we also learned that her NRA-connected boyfriend Paul Erickson appeared to be in jeopardy of being charged along with her.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he had never heard of a woman who is accused of working as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States until her July arrest.

The criminal complaint against her accused her of infiltrating a gun rights organization (believed to be the NRA) and using it to try to influence USA policy by interacting with politicians who maintained connections with the organization. They said she used her contacts with the National Rifle Association.

Her attorneys had said her interactions with the NRA and others were typical of an ambitious student anxious to network and eager to build better relations between the US and her country.

Butina has been in jail since her arrest in July.

A USA judge on Tuesday postponed a plea agreement hearing for accused Russian agent Maria Butina by one day, until Thursday. She certainly had surprising access to conservative politicians, including - in one memorable interaction captured on video - to then-candidate Donald Trump.

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A supporter of Butina in Russia, Alexander Ionov, said that he saw the plea deal and that she had "no choice" but to agree to it. Ionov, deputy head of a Russian human rights group, said he expects Butina to return to Russia next year. He supported her financially, telling McClatchy DC he established a South Dakota-based company Bridges LLC with Butina in order to help defray her educational expenses, and according to court filings, assisted with her coursework "by editing papers and answering exam questions".

Butina is charged with conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the Russian Federation government.

The Government's complaint against Butina did not explicitly mention Mr Trump's campaign. Her lawyers are asking for a sentence of 0 to 6 months, and this is a felony conviction, so she will face deportation. Moscow has labeled the case against Butina "fabricated" and called for her release. "I don't think you'd need the sanctions".

Butina kept Torshin apprised of her activities and her "assessment of the political landscape in the United States in advance of the 2016 election", according to the draft filing.

In particular, Butina predicted a Republican likely would win the presidential election and said she could help sway GOP opinion through ties she had built with the NRA.

Earlier, her father told of difficulties with paying the lawyers.