Back in July when Maria Butina, the gal he invited to speak to his Teenage Republican Camp in 2015 and praised as an “incredible” speaker, was arrested for acting as a Russian agent trying to influence dupable American Republicans, Congressional candidate Dusty Johnson called Butina “apparently, a scam artist and a liar” and expressed his hope that Butina would do “a good long while in prison.”
Now that Butina has knocked the “apparently” off Johnson’s assessment by pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to act as a Russian agent, she may get six months in the pokey followed by deportation back to Mother Russia.
The Statement of Offense that Butina agreed to yesterday says she and “U.S. Person 1” (that’s South Dakota’s own Paul Erickson, who is likely legal toast) “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official” (that’s Alexander Torshin) “and at least one other person” (ooo! a new mystery player!) “for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of [Torshin] without prior notification to the Attorney General.” The purpose of this conspiracy was for Butina to “establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. policies… for the benefit of the Russian Federation.” Butina acknowledges that she used the National Rifle Association, “which Butina posited had influence over” the Republican Party, to forward the Russian plan.
The plea agreement notes that her crime could carry a maximum sentence of five years, a fine of $250K or twice the pecuniary gain or loss of the offense, and three years of supervised release. Butina has no criminal history and is promising to help the feds investigate the activities of those in her Red Circle further, but she has agreed to remain in jail without bond pending sentencing.
Butina agrees to turn over evidence of all crimes of which she is aware, plus all contraband, proceeds, and assets traceable to such crimes. She also will submit a full accounting of all assets in her name or the name of a third party. Butina agrees to testify before grand juries.
The plea agreement and statement of offense make clear that U.S. Person 1, Paul Erickson, was a partner in this crime. To keep her sentence to months not years, Butina is now rolling over on South Dakota’s political man of mystery. Let’s just hope “at least one other person” doesn’t turn out to be our man Dusty!