US

Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina met with Obama administration officials in 2015, new report says

Maria Butina, the alleged Russian agent, met with Obama administration officials in 2015, a new report says. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina met with officials from the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve in 2015, according to a new report.

Butina was arrested in Washington D.C., on July 15. Federal investigators charged her with conspiracy to operate as an unlisted foreign agent in the U.S., a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Investigators allege that Butina worked in the U.S. at the direction of a high-level Russian official from early 2015 to at least Feb. 2017.

What did the report say?

Reuters reported that Butina and Alexander Torshin, the former Russian Central Bank deputy governor, met with Stanley Fischer, then-vice chair of the Fed, and Nathan Sheets, then-Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, in separate meetings in 2015.

The purpose of the meetings was to discuss U.S. economic sanctions placed on Russia during the Obama administration. The U.S. placed sanctions on Russia multiple times during the Obama years over Russia's involvement in Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea, and the Russian government's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

According to Reuters, the meetings "reveal a wider circle of high-powered connections that Butina sought to cultivate with American political leaders and special interest groups."

The meetings were arranged by the Center for the National Interest, a Washington D.C.-based think tank that advocates pro-Russia interests, Reuters reported.

More on Butina

The federal indictment against Butina alleges she conspired to "advance the interests of the Russian Federation." She allegedly worked for Torshin.

Butina has plead not guilty to the charges against her. A judge ruled last week that she must remain jailed until her trial.

Still, the Russian Foreign Ministry has initiated an online social media campaign to help secure Butina's release.

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