The Feds arrested Russian political operative Maria Butina on Sunday but the grand jury didn’t officially indict her until after her arrest. Legal experts tell Palmer Report that this sometimes happens, but it’s unusual. It suggests that the timing of her arrest truly was intended to disrupt the Trump-Putin summit. However, that’s not the odd part – it’s what she’s been charged with. She’s been hit with two similar but different charges, and it gives something away.
Maria Butina was charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia, and conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia. The first charge is aimed directly at her, and seems to be all about ensuring that she goes to prison. The second charge is aimed at establishing that her behavior was part of a criminal conspiracy, and it’s for largely the same reason Robert Mueller just indicted a dozen Russian government spies whom he’ll never be able to arrest.
By legally establishing that a criminal conspiracy existed, you lay the ground work for criminally charging others who participated in that conspiracy. So while the timing of the Butina arrest was all about the Trump-Putin summit, the reason for her arrest appears to be centered around indicting her alleged co-conspirators. So who are they?
The potential list is a long one. Maria Butina was officially working for Russian politician Alexander Torshin. Is Robert Mueller really about to indict the former chairman of the upper house of the Russian Parliament? Maybe. But this would seem to be more focused on the numerous Americans who met with or worked with Butina. That list includes Republican members of Congress, current and former Republican Governors, and the uppermost leadership of the NRA. The Butina rabbit hole runs deep – and the charges against her are tailor made for criminally indicting Americans next.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report