Maria Butina, the Russian spy who gained access to the highest levels of Republican political power by infiltrating the National Rifle Association (NRA), has been sentenced to prison.
Butina feigned ignorance in court before the judge issued her sentence, claiming that she did what she did because she wanted to mend relations between Washington and Moscow, but she was sentenced to the full amount sought by federal prosecutors minus time already served.
From NBC News:
Maria Butina, the Russian operative who used her NRA activism to illegally infiltrate conservative political circles, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a federal judge on Friday.
The 30-year-old American University graduate student pleaded guilty this past December to one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign official, following her arrest in July.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan gave Butina credit for nine months of time served. The judge ordered her deported as soon as her time is up.
Butina insisted that she is not a "spy" but, as part of her plea agreement, she admitted to working on behalf of the Russian government.
Federal prosecutors were also careful not to use the word "spy," but I have no qualms about using it because that's what she is in all but name.
Prosecutors said Butina was "not a spy in the traditional sense," but we don't live in a traditional world. Traditional spies may not even be necessary in a world where Republicans openly embrace foreign influencers and even foreign cyber attacks that target their political opponents. Trump's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently said that there's "nothing wrong" with accepting documents from Russian hackers who stole them from Democratic computers.
Butina may not have been a spy in "the traditional sense," but she was a spy in the Instagram sense.