Alleged Russian Agent’s Contacts Also Included Trump Aide

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Maria Butina, arrested in the U.S. on charges of conspiracy for pursuing Russia's agenda in the United States, socialized by email a month before the presidential election with Jeffrey Gordon, Donald Trump's campaign director from March through August 2016, The Washington Post said on Friday. Gordon served as the Trump campaign's director of national security for six months until departing in August 2016 for a role on Trump's transition team. Gordon also invited Butina to attend his birthday party in late October of that year.

Butina's attorney maintains that she was no more than a socially ambitious graduate student and guns rights activist who was interested in meeting like-minded conservative officials in the U.S. Both Butina's lawyer and Gordon insist there was no romance involved, and no further contact after Gordon's birthday party in late October.

Zakharova described Butina's treatment in jail "as complete lawlessness" and urged the worldwide human rights community to intervene.

"It seems the Maria Butina saga is basically a sensationalized click bait story meant to smear a steady stream of Republicans and NRA members she reportedly encountered over the past few years", he told ABC News in a statement. Paul Erickson, a former adviser for the Trump transition team, connected the two via email.

Butina was charged last month with acting as an agent for the Kremlin, but was not formally charged with espionage, most likely because her role was not to steal state and military secrets but allegedly to insinuate her way into USA political circles to advance Russia's policy aims.

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Russian operative Maria Butina liked to show off her connections with intelligence when she was drunk.

Prosecutors are investigating Butina's potential ties to the NRA.

"We want to reduce hostility with Russian Federation because, look, we have common interests", he said.

The Russian woman who was indicted on charges of acting as an unregistered agent of Moscow reportedly socialized with an associate of then-candidate Donald Trump's during the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign. Gordon instead offered an extra ticket to a Styx concert, which he was attending that week.

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