"Butina is not a staff officer of any Russian military or intelligence agency".
She is the Russian accused of trying to infiltrate the all-powerful U.S. gun lobby which has close ties to Republican politicians. Erickson and Butina met during a trip of the NRA leaders to Moscow in 2013 and that the two have been involved in an romantic relationship, her lawyer said.
Butina's longtime boyfriend - GOP operative Paul Erickson - has reportedly been informed that he is a target in the investigation. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, declined to comment. He supported her financially, telling McClatchy DC he established a South Dakota-based company Bridges LLC with Butina in order to help defray her educational expenses, and according to court filings, assisted with her coursework "by editing papers and answering exam questions". "Oh, and I have 3 words for you: January is coming".
The government's complaint against Butina did not explicitly mention Trump's campaign.
Butina, a former American University graduate student, had previously pleaded not guilty to United States charges in July that she was acting as an agent of the Russian government and conspiring to take actions on Russia's behalf.
Butina might, in fact, have had some links to the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, Putin admitted, adding that she could have actually worked with some officials there.
"This woman risks 15 years in jail. For what?" asked Putin.
"When I heard that something is happening to her, I just went to all intelligence chiefs and asked who she was", he said in televised remarks after a council member raised the issue of defending the rights of Russians overseas.
Earlier, her father told of difficulties with paying the lawyers.
"The only thing she might agree with is that she should have registered as a foreign agent", he said. That role gave her access to conservatives intrigued by the idea of the Siberian-born self-made activist agitating for expanded gun rights in Putin's restrictive Russian Federation.
The information was included in a filing in the case against Maria Butina. They twice hosted NRA members in Moscow, including during a December 2015 visit when Torshin arranged for a group of NRA dignitaries to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The recent legal documents shows Butina perceived the trip as a way to advance her political goals. The first message said the funding of her legal defense as in a "critical" state.
Butina was arrested in July and accused of ensnaring Erickson in a "duplicitous relationship", using him for cover and connections as she developed an influence operation created to "advance the agenda of the Russian Federation". "A wealthy and well-connected US person", who received assistance from Butina, helped organize the dinners, the plea agreement says.