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00:00:00
>> A Russian spy hiding in plain sight, that's what investigators are calling 29-year-old Maria Butina, the Russian woman arrested this week in Washington, DC, and indicted on Tuesday on charges of acting as an agent for the Kremlin. Sources tell Reuters Butina was paid by a senior Russian official to nurture ties with US citizens and to infiltrate political groups like the National Rifle Association.
00:00:25
Sarah Lynch is covering the story.>> She's been of interest to law enforcement for quite some time. She was here on a student visa studying at American University, and she was making direct contact with a lot of American politicians, as well as members, prominent members I should say, of the National Rifle Association.
00:00:44
She's featured prominently on social media in photos with people like Wayne Lapierre of the NRA.>> Butina who founded, who founded her own pro-gun advocacy group, made little secret of her eforts to get close to US political figures.>> If you look on her Facebook page or on her Twitter site, you can see she's pictured with people like Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin who was at one point a Republican presidential candidate.
00:01:07
She was pictured with Rick Santorum and others.>> Sources tell Reuters Butina was paid by prominent Russian banking figure Alexander Torshin to try to influence US policymakers. Torshin has been the subject of several probes, and is currently under US sanctions. Butina is not among the more than two dozen Russians accused by Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, of meddling in the 2016 campaign.
00:01:30
But, Lynch says, she did claim connections to the Trump campaign.>> Sources familiar with her behavior have told me that she openly bragged to many people that she could get them jobs with the Trump campaign, that she had been spotted at one of the campaign inaugural events. She did have ties with two unnamed American citizens, who are basically accused in the complaint of working with her to further her interests, which were for the benefit of Russia.
00:02:01
But there's no specific allegation in the complaint at this point that she had direct ties to the Trump campaign.>> Butina will be arraigned in a US district court in Washington, DC on Wednesday.