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Russian Spy Maria Butina's Confession Should Scare Donald Trump
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15 Dec 2018 10:09 AM EST

-by Drew Kolar, Editor; Image: Mugshot of Maria Butina (Image Source: Alexandria Sheriff’s Office / Public Domain)

Donald Trump should be afraid, if he isn’t already.

With accused Russian secret agent Maria Butina pleading guilty to acting as an agent of the Russian government this week, fuel has undoubtedly been added to the fire of Robert Mueller’s (very expensive) investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Though Butina’s case was not handled Mueller’s investigation, she did agree to cooperate with investigators as part of her plea deal. This, in turn, could help prove that Russia and the Kremlin did indeed interfere in the election—which would be detrimental to Trump and his administration.

Butina, 30, admitted Thursday to being backed by Russian officials to influence American voters involved in the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Republican Party to see Russia as an ally. Her love of guns and religion was a key factor in her efforts, gaining her entry to top officials and Republican presidential candidates. She became a Trump supporter and easily incorporated herself into conservative Washington circles to further her cause.

Butina’s admission now highlights quite a few Americans she associated with, including top NRA members and her boyfriend, longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson, 56. Erikson faces accusations of fraud in three states, and federal investigators are now looking into if Erickson and those associated with Butina knew about her ties to the Russian government.

As for Mueller’s investigation, indictments and convictions have already occurred, with more likely on the way after this week’s news. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has already been convicted, while former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and campaign finance violations and was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday, just one day before Butina’s confession.

It looks like the alleged “Witch Hunt” has indeed dug up more than Trump bargained for, after all.

Butina may not be directly connected to Trump personally, but her admission and willingness to cooperate with investigators is one step closer to proof that something was afoot in 2016 that, at the very least, could hurt the Republican Party’s reputation for years to come—and could sway the next election in favor of the Democrats. Furthermore, Mueller will be privy to whatever information Butina shares in relation to Russia’s influence in the election.

As Salon notes, this is definitely bad news for Trump, and what makes it worse for the president is that it could cause a personal blow, as her admission will undoubtedly hurt Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin—a relationship that already seemed strained after the G-20 summit in Argentina. With Trump losing friends left and right and his approval rating at just 39 percent, the future is looking grim.

Will next week bring more revelations that could hurt the GOP and Trump? At this rate, it seems only a matter of “when” than “if.”

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