On Monday the Department of Justice (Main Justice) announced that it has charged Russian national Maria Butina with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russia. The complaint charging Butina — there isn’t much to it — is posted here. The Department of Justice press release is posted here. Whatever meat is on this particular bone comes from the supporting affidavit of FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson. It is posted here; I have also embedded it via Scribd below.
The gist of the charge is that Butina did what she did on behalf of Russia in the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General (“The filings allege that she undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law”). Eric Felten has a good guide to the case in the Weekly Standard column “Behind the indictment of Maria Butina.”
These are the overt acts manifesting the conspiracy charged in the complaint:
a. On or about March 14, 2016, BUTINA emailed a U.S’ person in an effort to develop, maintain, and exploit a relationship in furtherance of the conspiracy;
b. In or around August 2016,.BUTINA entered the United States on an F-l Student Visa, for the purported purpose of attending university full time in the District of Columbia’ when in truth and in fact, BUTINA continued to act as an agent on b€half of the Russian Federation and the official ofthe Russian Federation; and
c. On or about September 26, 2016, BUTINA emailed a U.S. person to organize an event for the purpose of influencing the views of U.S. officials, as those views relate to the Russian Federation.
It doesn’t sound like much. President Trump would also want it noted — and he would be correct — that there is no collusion. No collusion at all.
Indeed, as Eric Felten demonstrates in his commentary on the case, Butina provides a sort of comic counterpoint to the collusion hysteria fomented by the Democrats and their mainstream media adjunct. We are in a land somewhere short of the Spy vs. Spy territory in a case predicated on Butina’s failure to register as a foreign agent.
Yet the case has been the subject of discussion on CNN and elsewhere as though it constitutes part of the Mueller probe (it doesn’t) and that it demonstrates the coppers closing in on Trump (I don’t think so). If this were true, the case would not be prosecuted by the National Security Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.