Prosecutors and Maria Butina — a Russian national who’s been accused of being an unregistered foreign agent — requested Monday that a judge schedule a hearing this week so that Butina can change her plea. The filing was a suggestion that Butina and prosecutors may have reached a plea deal in the case.
Butina had pleaded not guilty to the charge, brought by prosecutors in July.
There have been previous signs that Butina and prosecutors were working on a resolution — namely in a November request seeking delays in court filing deadlines as the parties worked on a “pretrial resolution.”
“The parties have resolved this matter,” the court filing Monday said.
The 30-year-old Butina was accused of to seeking to infiltrate and influence Republican politics, and the party’s posture towards Russia, through her activism promoting gun rights. Her lawyers have maintained that she was merely a college student interested in learning about American politics.
She was romantically connected to a longtime GOP activist, Paul Erickson, who himself was reportedly told by prosecutors recently that he too may face charges similar to those brought against Butina. She also met a number of prominent Republican politicians — even asking then-candidate Donald Trump a question at a 2015 town hall-style campaign event — and appeared in conservative media.
Also on Monday, Butina’s lawyers told the judge, U.S. District Tanya Chutkan, that they did not oppose the unsealing of a transcript from part of a teleconference she held with the parties last week. After the teleconference, which was mostly sealed off from the public, Chutkan appointed a public defender to serve as an “advisory counsel” to Butina. It is unclear why the public defender, A.J. Kramer, was appointed, but he will be present at the change-of-plea hearing the parties are requesting, they said on Monday.
Read the filing below:
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