Federal prosecutors admit they screwed up and Maria Butina offered to screw no one as part of her alleged Russian spying. On Monday, Judge Tanya Chutkan said the feds have damaged Butina’s reputation with their msireading of an obvious joke:
…Chutkan scolded prosecutors for making “rather salacious” allegations about the defendant offering to trade sex for an employment position. The government largely walked back those allegations in a new filing Friday. Chutkan said it took her a few minutes to look at Butina’s text messages about sex and tell they were a joke. “I am concerned” that someone at the Justice Department would look at those messages and make that allegation, Chutkan said in court.
“Mr. Driscoll is right” Chutkan said, that the “notorious” allegations “damaged [Butina’s] reputation” [Tierney Sneed, “Judge Refuses to Release Butina and Scolds Both Sides,” Talking Points Memo, 2018.09.10].
Nonetheless, Judge Chutkan is keeping the Red Fox in the can without bond and has slapped a gag order on both sides, which should spare us any further horrors like defense attorney Robert Driscoll’s release of the Butina–Paul Erickson “Beauty and the Beast” duet video, which is all the deeper the SDGOP spin machine has dared blog about this South Dakota spying affair.
In a sign that duet won’t get an encore, the feds say Butina has offered to turn on South Dakota’s international man of mystery, “U.S. Person No. 1,” who appears to have been a willing co-conspirator in the Russian effort to install a friendly U.S. President:
The defendant’s relationship with U.S. Person 1 is an insufficiently strong tie to prevent her from fleeing the jurisdiction if released. As noted at the detention hearing before the magistrate judge, there is an ongoing fraud investigation examining the activities of U.S. Person 1…. Moreover, the defendant has offered to provide information to the government, in connection with that case, about “the illegal acts of others,” i.e., U.S. Person 1…. In addition, as the government set forth in the affidavit in support of its complaint, as well as its proffer above, U.S. Person 1 for multiple years played an integral role in the defendant’s efforts to establish an informal line of communication between the Kremlin and the incoming Presidential Administration, knowing that she was acting at the direction of the Russian Official. Indeed, the government has also recovered a handwritten document from his residence, entitled “Maria’s Patriots in Waiting Organization,” that included the question, “Respond to FSB offer of employment?” Under these circumstances, U.S. Person 1 is not a tie to the United States on which the Court should rely to ensure the defendant’s return to court or compliance with conditions of release [Government’s Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Bond Review, U.S. v. Butina, 2018.09.07].
FSB offer of employment—either Paul Erickson or Maria Butina was considering a job at First State Bank in Warner (we’ll get that Butina-Brown County connection yet!) or someone in the Butina-Erickson love nest had an offer to go to work for the successor agency to Vladimir Putin’s KGB. Yeah, maybe we’d better keep Maria in the can until we get the facts on that deal.