When Russian spy Maria Butina cut a cooperating plea deal, the big question was whether she’d actually go through with the requirements and sell out everyone involved, or if she’d end up cowering to Vladimir Putin instead. If you’re rooting for her to take down as many people as possible, then you just got some very good news: she’s suddenly back in the game.
Earlier this week the Feds in South Dakota arrested Maria Butina’s boyfriend, Republican operative Paul Erickson, on felony fraud charges that don’t necessarily appear to have anything to do with Russia. We don’t know if it was Butina who sold out Erickson for his fraud schemes, or if the Feds got the goods on Erickson through other methods. But what we do know is that Butina is still working on taking down other people.
Butina has asked the judge in her case for a fourteen day delay before sentencing, so she can continue providing cooperation, according to an MSN report. Why does this matter? By definition, when Butina was first cutting her plea deal, she would have needed to give up everything she knew on every criminal in her life during her initial proffer sessions. But now, in at least one of the cases against these other people, things have progressed to the point that Butina thinks she can help more.
Typically this would involve prosecutors finding new evidence against one of the Butina-related targets, then circling back to Butina and asking her if she knows anything about it, and then her realizing that something she previously didn’t think to mention is now relevant. We still have no way of knowing who’s being targeted in this instance, but there are some clues.
Maria Butina courted personal relationships with a number of Republican politicians, Republican operatives, NRA officials, and others. It’s a long list, and we don’t know which of those relationships ended up being criminal in nature. But it’s someone important enough that Butina thinks her additional cooperation might reduce her sentence. Whoever it is, it looks like they may be going down within the next fourteen days.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report