>> Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy in a DC federal court Thursday. And agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors in a deal that could shed new light on Russian meddling in American politics. The former American University graduate student was charged in July with acting as an agent of the Kremlin.
Working to influence US policy, including infiltrating the National Rifle Association. In a statement to the court, prosecutors said Butina had drafted a so-called diplomacy project. A secret plan to establish unofficial back channels to high ranking American politicians, to benefit Russia. Butina admitted to conspiring with two Americans and a Russian official as part of that plan.
The Russian previously identified by her lawyers as Alexander Torshin, a prominent banking official currently under US sanctions. One of the Americans cited in the prosecution's complain was Paul Erickson, a conservative activist who is dating Butina. Neither Erickson nor Torshin have been accused by prosecutors of wrongdoing. Moscow has said the case against Butina is, quote, fabricated and has called for her release.
Her lawyer Robert Driscoll estimating she could face up to six months in prison. The case is not part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. But Butina now becoming the first Russian citizen convicted of trying to influence US policy around the election.