The criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit allege that she spent years cultivating ties to high-level Republicans, using connections she forged through associates of the National Rifle Association.
Butina, a Russian national who has been living the USA, was charged with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.
None of the Americans with whom the Russians made contact are charged with any wrongdoing, for example; it's unclear whether there might be additional charges down the line and whether the Justice Department feels the USA citizens involved in the matter might have broken any laws.
Throughout her time in the United States, according to the affidavit attached to the initial criminal complaint, she received guidance from an unnamed Russian official who, based on the description, appears to be Torshin, and coordinated with two unnamed USA persons, whose identities remain opaque. Torshin, who was listed as "State Secretary-deputy Governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, " was designated under the sanctions as a Russian official.
The charges against Butina were filed by prosecutors from the Justice Department's national security division - not special counsel Robert Mueller's office - and offer yet another glimpse into the wide variety of methods Moscow employed to try to influence the United States political climate ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The affidavit quotes from several private message exchanges shortly before the 2016 presidential election between not only Butina and the Russian Official but Butina and an unnamed US person, both of whom, the affidavit notes, she met and communicated with regularly as they developed an "influence operation".
Democrats on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee investigating any ties between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation previously highlighted Butina as a person of interest and sought permission from the committee's Republican leadership to bring her in for questioning. The charges against her were brought by a different Justice Department office: the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C. He said Trump Jr.
Butina is a firearms enthusiast, who founded the Russian gun-rights group, the Right to Bear Arms.More news: Donald Trump waves at protesters as he plays golf during United Kingdom visit
According to the complaint, Butina reported back to a top government official in Moscow, who is not named in the court papers. In 2015, shortly before he launched his failed presidential campaign, Scott Walker met with Butina and allegedly greeted her in Russian.
"Your political star has risen in the sky", the official told Butina, according to the Washington Post.
"Thank you for this opportunity to address the Russian people on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Russian Constitution", Bolton says. "The whole world hates us. and yet they make money with us", Trump said. Driscoll said Butina was not an agent of the Russian Federation but was instead in the United States on a student visa, graduating from American University with a master's degree in worldwide relations.
The NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Newly unsealed court documents show that prosecutors indicated in a court filing on Saturday their investigation into the Russian foreign agent had more than one subject.
Torshin and Butina often used their NRA ties to try to bolster Russian interests.