“Accused Russian agent Maria Butina had wider high-level contacts in Washington than previously known”
On Monday, the Department of Justice charged Russian national Maria Butina with conspiring to defraud the United States and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. The focus of the media’s attention has been on Butina’s ties to the NRA and to Republican politicians.
We are now learning, however, that Butina met with top officials from the Federal Reserve and from the U. S. Treasury Department during the Obama administration.
The focus of the media has been on the NRA and GOP politicians with attempts to tie her to President Trump.
Accused agent of #Russia travelled to the US in 2015 with the Russian Central Bank deputy governor and they took part in separate meetings with US officials (during the @BarackObama administration) to discuss economic relations, reports @Reuters. https://t.co/mOFl7txuRV
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) July 22, 2018
Accused Russian agent Maria Butina had wider high-level contacts in Washington than previously known, taking part in 2015 meetings between a visiting Russian official and two senior officials at the U.S. Federal Reserve and Treasury Department.
The meetings, revealed by several people familiar with the sessions and a report from a Washington think tank that arranged them, involved Stanley Fischer, Fed vice chairman at the time, and Nathan Sheets, then Treasury undersecretary for international affairs.
Butina travelled to the United States in April 2015 with Alexander Torshin, then the Russian Central Bank deputy governor, and they took part in separate meetings with Fischer and Sheets to discuss U.S.-Russian economic relations during Democratic former President Barack Obama’s administration.
The two meetings, which have not been previously reported, reveal a wider circle of high-powered connections that Butina sought to cultivate with American political leaders and special interest groups.
The meetings were set up by a DC-based pro-Russia think tank and involved higher level officials than originally known.
The meetings with Fischer and Sheets were arranged by the Center for the National Interest, a Washington foreign policy think tank that often advocates pro-Russia views.
The meetings were documented in a Center for the National Interest report seen by Reuters that outlined its Russia-related activities from 2013 to 2015. The report described the meetings as helping bring together “leading figures from the financial institutions of the United States and Russia.”
Robert Driscoll, Butina’s attorney, said in an interview with NPR that Butina’s involvement with the NRA was related to a gun rights group she started in Russia. Driscoll also downplayed some of the evidence against Butina noting, “For starters, you’re reading Twitter direct messages which are unencrypted. I would imagine that Russian intelligence probably communicates in different ways than that.”
Meanwhile, the leftstream media and Democrats are seeing Russians everywhere.
MEDIA FAIL IN PROGRESS: Blue checks confuse NSC staffer for Russian Maria Butina https://t.co/QcJCjH4Wtp
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) July 17, 2018
Twitchy points out that this meme was quickly (and hilariously) picked up on Twitter.
I thought this was a photoshop, but it's not. Here's Maria Butina infiltrating our early air exploration efforts, posing as someone named "Amelia Earhart." pic.twitter.com/1jpUUe0spc
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) July 17, 2018
I thought this was a photoshop, but it’s not. This is Maria Butina — arrested for being a Russian spy — winning an Oscar. pic.twitter.com/TfnQPWEEa6
— CJ Ciaramella (@cjciaramella) July 17, 2018
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