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Among the exhibits special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors might present at the Virginia trial for Paul Manafort, which is set to begin next week, are photos of a putting green at his Hamptons home, records pertaining to the $1 million he allegedly spent on antique rugs, his Yankees season tickets, and emails among his associates about his work in Ukraine.

Mueller’s team Wednesday submitted its exhibit list for the trial. It reads like a recap of Manafort’s allegedly lavish lifestyle that was described in the grand jury indictments handed down in D.C. and Virginia.

In the Virginia case, the former Trump campaign chairman is facing charges of tax fraud and bank fraud — fraud Mueller has alleged continued through 2016. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

Read the exhibit list below:

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U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Wednesday denied former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s request that evidence obtained from a July raid on his Virginia residence be thrown out for the upcoming trial.

“Given the nature of the investigation, the warrant was not too broad in scope,” Jackson said in her opinion, while also rejecting specifically the arguments Manafort made about the material sought on Manafort’s electronic devices.

“And, even if the Court could find fault with the warrant application if it were reviewing it in the first instance, the agents relied in good faith on a warrant signed by a United States Magistrate Judge,” she said.

Manafort lost a similar request he made in his case in Virginia, and in both cases he has been denied requests that evidence from a search of his storage unit be thrown out. He is facing charges of money laundering, failure to disclose foreign lobbying, bank fraud and tax fraud. He has pleaded not guilty. The trial in Virginia begins next week, and his D.C. case is scheduled for trial in September.

Read Jackson’s opinion on the residence search evidence below:

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A federal magistrate in Washington D.C. Wednesday ordered Mariia Butina held in detention until her trial on charges of failing to register as an agent of Russia and conspiring against the United States.

Butina also pleaded not guilty during the preliminary hearing. She was indicted by a federal grand jury in the nation’s capital Tuesday following her arrest there Sunday.

Federal prosecutors argued that Butina was an “extreme flight risk” who should not be allowed to go free pending trial. The government, represented by Erik Kerenson, argued in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson that if Butina went to a Russian embassy or was picked by a diplomatic car, there would be nothing law enforcement could do about it, and Russia also could legally provide her with a passport that would allow her to leaved the country.

Butina, represented by Robert Driscoll, was seeking to be released on bail, and contended that she had already been cooperating with various inquiries prior to her arrest.

After the hearing, Driscoll told reporters that he respected but disagreed with the court’s order.

“She’s been aware of a criminal investigation into her conduct for months and made no attempt to flee, nor has the government, which has had her under surveillance for the entire time, alleged that she has,” he said. “We remain confident that she will prevail in this case”

Driscoll told the court that she had been contacted by the Senate Intelligence Committee in the fall of 2017 and testified before the committee for eight hours in April behind closed doors. She also provided the committee with some 8,000 pages of documents, Driscoll said.

Driscoll also revealed that that in March 2018 the Federal Election Commission inquired with her about certain contributions.

FBI agents searched Butina’s residence on April 25, Driscoll said, adding that she and her attorneys were present for the search.

He said that her attorneys then reached out to the U.S. Attorney in South Dakota, which was referenced in the search warrants for her home, to offer them information.

Kerenson countered this claim by arguing that Butina’s offer was to assist in a fraud investigation into an individual referred to in court docs as U.S. person 1. To his knowledge, he said she was never told that she was the subject of the investigation.

U.S person 1 is, based on corroborating details, believed to be Paul Erickson, a South Dakota-based longtime GOP operative. Later in the hearing Driscoll referenced that Butina’s boyfriend lived in South Dakota, and that Butina this summer planned to move with him.

Kerenson’s presentation to the judge went through some of the details in a motion the government filed ahead of the hearing, but he also made new claims about her activities in the U.S. He said it was “absurd” for her attorneys to claim she was simply in the United States as a student.

He recounted an alleged December 2014 text exchange Butina had with whom Kerenson desribed as a wealthy Russian businessman. The businessman told Butina that he wanted her to work in the United States, according to the prosecutor, “not go on a tourist trip.”

He described alleged notes found on a thumb drive obtained at U.S. Person 1’s residence, under a folder titled “Maria Butina” that referenced laying a “groundwork,” according to Kerenson, to influence high-level politicians.

Kerenson presented a photo, referenced in the court docs and exhibited for the courtroom, of Butina with a male individual he described as a suspected Russian intel operative. Driscoll argued that Butina was unaware of the individual’s ties to the FSB, Russia’s security agency, and said that they were simply two Russian nationals sharing a meal.

After Driscoll claimed that there was no evidence that Butina had ever visited the Russian embassy or been in a diplomatic car, Kerenson alleged the existence of a photograph of Butina with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Driscoll argued that Kislyak was already the former ambassador when the photograph, at a movie screening at a Russian cultural center, was taken.

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Lawyers for Andrew Miller, a former Roger Stone aide who is fighting a grand jury subpoena in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, as well as at least five attorneys from Mueller’s team spent nearly an hour and a half Wednesday in the D.C. courtroom of Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell.

The two defense attorneys, when exiting the courtroom at a little before 11 a.m. ET, confirmed they were representing Miller but would not say anything more about what happened behind closed doors or why they were there.

They had entered Howell’s courtroom around 9:30 a.m. ET, a few minutes after a handful of Mueller prosecutors entered the courtroom. Reporters were not allowed to enter the closed courtroom.

Among the members of Mueller’s team TPM spotted were Michael Dreeben, Elizabeth Prelogar and Adam Jed.

Miller’s attorneys had last month sought to quash the subpoena, Politico reported. His appearance in front of Mueller’s grand jury was postponed, according to the Politico report, with lawyers from Mueller’s team offering Miller’s attorneys potential dates for hearings in front of Howell. One hearing would be on whether Miller’s motion to squash was timely, according to Politico, and the other on its merits.

It is not clear whether Wednesday’s closed-door proceeding was either of those hearings, or about something else.

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In a detail-packed request for pretrial detention filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors alleged that accused Russian agent Mariia Butina represents an “extreme flight risk” and was likely in touch with Russian intelligence operatives “throughout her stay in the United States.”

Prosecutors said they fear that if not jailed Butina will seek safe harbor in a Russian embassy or otherwise try to flee the country due to “the nature of the charges, her history of deceptive conduct, the potential sentence she faces, the strong evidence of guilt, her extensive foreign connections, and her lack of any meaningful ties to the United States,” according to the document, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Butina is due in court for a hearing at 1:30 p.m ET. She was indicted Tuesday on one count of engaging in conspiracy against the U.S. and another of failing to register as an agent of Russia. She was arrested Sunday.

Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, maintains that Butina was working openly to foster closer U.S.-Russia relations. Driscoll argued in court that she did not pose a flight risk because she had chosen to stay in the country even as details of the influence operation she engaged in on behalf of senior Russian official Alexander Torshin were published in the press over the past year and a half.

The government’s main arguments for keeping Butina in jail ahead of her trial are laid out below.

Contacts with FSB and Russian oligarchs

Prosecutors allege that Butina was in contact with “officials believed to be Russian intelligence operatives,” including employees of the FSB, or Russian federal security service.

Electronic contact lists and documents seized by the FBI while executing a search warrant at her apartment allegedly include a handwritten note that reads “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?,” per the filing. The FBI claimed it observed Butina having a private meal with a Russian diplomat suspected of being an intelligence officer in March 2018, the document alleges.

In addition to these intelligence connections, prosecutors allege that Butina is “well-connected to wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy,” citing regular electronic communications about a Russian billionaire who she allegedly referred to as her “funder.”

The U.S. government fears Butina could leverage these political and intelligence connections to receive “safe harbor.”

Sex for access

Perhaps the most scandalous details of the filing relate to Butina’s alleged use of sexual favors to gain influence with her U.S. targets.

Prosecutors allege that the FBI determined that the 29-year-old was “believed to have cohabitated and been involved in a personal relationship” with an individual identified only as U.S. Person 1. Corroborating details indicate that person is South Dakota-based longtime GOP operative Paul Erickson. Per the filing, the FBI determined Butina saw the relationship only as a means to an end and that she, “on at least one occasion,” offered a different individual “sex in exchange for a position with a special interest organization.”

Plans to depart D.C.

The FBI determined that Butina and “U.S. Person 1” had spent the past week preparing for her departure from Washington, D.C., where she’d lived while attending graduate school at American University.

Butina’s lease was due to end on July 31 and she and “U.S. Person 1” visited on July 14 a U-Haul rental facility to discuss renting a track, per the filing.

“When agents executed a warrant at their Washington, D.C., apartment on July 15, 2018, the defendant’s belongings were packed and a letter was discovered notifying the landlord that the lease was to be terminated on July 31, 2018,” the document states.

Butina also allegedly sent an international wire transfer for $3,500 to an account in Russia last week, per the document.

Was acting covertly

The pretrial request notes that Butina’s “legal status in the United States is predicated on deception” because she allegedly falsely claimed on her student visa application that she was no longer working as an assistant to Torshin, the Russian official.

This is just one example of the kind of covert activity Butina allegedly engaged with in order to keep the true nature of her presence in the U.S. under wraps. Other details included in the document include requests that “U.S. Person 1” complete her schoolwork because her grad school attendance was a “cover,” and texts she allegedly exchanged with Torshin about the need to keep their activities “underground.”

Seriousness of charges

Prosecutors allege that the FBI has compiled “substantial” evidence to support their allegations, including email and other electronic communications, paper documents, and planned testimony from “numerous witnesses.”

Given that evidence and the possible maximum sentences she faces—ten years for acting as an agent of a foreign government and five for conspiracy—she has a strong motivation to flee, according to the document.

Read the full filing below.

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Paul Erickson has worn many hats during his decades as a GOP political operative: national treasurer of the College Republicans; executive producer of Jack Abramoff’s anti-communist film “Red Scorpion”; lobbyist for Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko; political director of Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign.

A federal grand jury indictment brought Tuesday added another title to that long, unorthodox list: the alleged conduit between what investigators call an “illegal agent of the Russian Federation” and top Republican officials in Washington, D.C.

Erickson is not identified by name in the indictment against Mariia Butina, the Russian national arrested for allegedly conducting “a Russian influence operation” against the United States. But his background and political activities align closely with those of the individual listed in an FBI agent’s detailed affidavit as “U.S. Person 1.”

That person is described as a “United States citizen and an American political operative.” Between 2013 and 2017, according to both court documents and reporting on Erickson, he allegedly helped broker contacts between U.S. conservatives involved with the National Rifle Association, Butina and Russian politician Alexander Torshin.

As Erickson put it in one May 2016 email to a Trump campaign adviser first reported by the New York Times: “Happenstance and the [sometimes] international reach of the NRA placed me in a position a couple of years ago to slowly begin cultivating a back-channel to President Putin’s Kremlin.”

The email offering to broker such a meeting between the likely GOP nominee and Putin had the subject line “Kremlin Connection.”

Erickson has not been charged with any crimes or spoken publicly about Butina’s arrest. He did not immediately respond to TPM’s Tuesday Facebook message seeking comment.

But the affidavit, which has the most information on Erickson’s activities, is a reminder that he is the alleged nexus of Butina’s web of GOP connections—and of just how much the FBI apparently knows about their communications.

As Erickson’s name popped up in news reports over the past two years, acquaintances said they weren’t particularly surprised to find him caught up in the Russia quagmire. Erickson has for decades positioned himself as a shadowy “’secret master of the political universe’” who feeds off of access to D.C.’s most powerful, as conservative commentator Ralph Benko put it.

Erickson’s ventures have varied between the legitimate and the bizarre, according to a stellar February profile of the Vermillion native in South Dakota’s Rapid City Journal.

Erickson, who graduated from Yale and University of Virginia Law School, first linked up with now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff during their time in the College Republicans. He spent the 1980s and 1990s alternating between working on GOP political campaigns, including Buchanan’s unsuccessful attempt to primary George H.W. Bush, and teaming up with Abramoff on ventures like 1989’s anti-communist action movie “Red Scorpion.”

One bizarre stint was serving as a media adviser for John Wayne Bobbitt, the Virginia man whose wife, Lorena, chopped his penis off with a carving knife. Per contemporaneous news reports, Erickson booked Bobbitt on an international “Love Hurts” tour to help him raise funds. The tour involved media hits on outlets like “The Howard Stern Show” and selling autographed steak knives.

Another curious interlude involved accepting a $30,000 contract with Abramoff in 1994 to try to convince the U.S. government to allow Mobutu Sese Seko, the brutal and corrupt dictator of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to enter the country.

This unusual resume and willingness to go to bat for controversial foreign figures may have made Erickson a great fit to connect Butina to Americans willing to hear a new tune about U.S.-Russia relations.

According to the affidavit, the duo first crossed paths in Moscow in 2013, and subsequently worked together “for the purpose of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation.”

A March 2015 email from Butina to Erickson included in the charging document lays out her goal: “to build konstruktivnyh [sic] relations” between the U.S. and Russia, through the “[central place and influence” that the NRA plays in the Republican Party. She requested a budget of $125,000 to attend conservative conferences to make these connections, per the charging document.

Erickson allegedly replied with an email titled “Potential American Contacts” that included a list of media, political, and corporate contacts who could help Butina achieve these ends, according to the affidavit. In a subsequent email, subject line “Your Plan Forward,” he said Butina had already laid the “groundwork” needed to get meetings with people who could actually influence American attitudes about Russia going forward.

In March and September 2016, according to the charging document, Erickson allegedly emailed with Butina about which American individuals should attend the “friendship and dialogue dinners” on behalf of Russia that Butina hosted in Washington, D.C. and New York.

The affidavit also cites an October 2016 email in which Erickson himself seems surprised by his role in brokering these back-channel negotiations, allegedly telling an acquaintance he was working on “securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key POLITICAL PARTY 1 leaders through, of all conduits, the [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION].”

Whether Erickson has been interviewed by federal or congressional investigators is not yet known. An attorney for Butina has denied that she is a Russian agent and said she has offered cooperation to the FBI in addition to voluntarily sitting for an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In February, the Rapid City Journal asked Erickson about the Trump-Russia investigation and his 2016 “Kremlin Connection” email to the Trump campaign. All he said in response was: “Not all reports from the East are accurate.”

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Two days after her arrest for allegedly acting as “an agent of a foreign government,” Russian national Mariia Butina was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington DC on similar charges.

Butina was charged with one count of engaging in conspiracy against the U.S. and another of failing to register as an agent of Russia.

Butina allegedly spent years forging connections with top conservative officials, including many associated with a “gun rights organization,” “for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation,” according to the indictment. Though the indictment does not name the gun organization or the Russian government official who Butina worked under, corroborating details identify them as the National Rifle Association and former Russian Central Bank official Alexander Torshin, respectively.

Per the indictment, Butina allegedly lied on the F-1 student visa application that allowed her to come to the U.S. for graduate school in 2016. She said she had terminated her employment for Torshin, but was instead acting under his “direction and control,” the indictment alleged.

GOP operative Paul Erickson, identified in the indictment only as “U.S. Person 1,” allegedly helped the duo connect with influential conservatives involved with the NRA, National Prayer Breakfast, and 2016 Republican presidential campaigns, according to the indictment.

Butina engaged in all of this activity between 2015 and 2017 without ever informing the U.S. Attorney General that “she would and did act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government,” according to the indictment. Meanwhile, she reported her activities back to Torshin via email, Twitter direct message and “other means,” per the filing.

Butina is being held without bond in a D.C. jail, and is due in court Wednesday for a hearing before D.C. District Judge Deborah Robinson.

Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has said she did not work as a covert Russian agent. Instead, he said in a Monday statement, she was a high-performing grad student at American University who openly sought to improve U.S.-Russia relations.
Read the indictment below.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller revealed in court filings Tuesday that he is seeking immunity for five potential witnesses in next week’s criminal trial of Paul Manafort.

The court filing was a request by Mueller that he be allowed to keep secret, for now, the identity of the five possible witnesses, unless and until they are called to testify publicly at the trial.

“The five individuals identified in the motions at issue are third parties who have not been charged in this matter, and who have not been identified publicly with the case,” Mueller said in the court document. “Disclosing the motions would reveal those individuals’ involvement in the investigation and the trial, thereby creating the risk of their undue harassment. Such concern potentially would be heightened by the additional revelation that they have invoked their privilege against self-incrimination and may be granted immunity from the use against them of any compelled testimony.”

He also raised the concern that “the witnesses’ invocation of their privilege against self-incrimination and the Court’s subsequent grant of immunity could lead to reputational harm for the witnesses.”

Manafort faces trial in Virginia, where the former Trump campaign chairman has been charged with bank fraud and tax fraud. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis has scheduled the trial to begin on July 25.

“The government recognizes that if any of the five individuals are called to testify, their identity and receipt of use immunity likely will become public, and thus the concerns raised in this motion no longer would apply,” Mueller said. “Accordingly, in order to narrowly tailor its request, the government proposes that the information remain sealed unless and until the individuals testify in this case.”

Mueller said that while he is seeking to file the motions for immunity for the judge’s eyes only, any corresponding orders handed down by the judge would be provided to defense counsel by prosecutors ahead of the trial.

Read the filing below:

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The Russian woman who was charged Monday for acting as an agent of the Russian government is actually just a high-performing graduate student, according to her  American attorney.

“Maria Butina is not an agent of the Russian Federation,” Robert N. Driscoll said in a lengthy statement issued late Monday. “She is a Russian national in the United States on a student visa who recently graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. with a Masters Degree in International Relations and 4.0 grade point average.”

Butina, 29, was arrested by the FBI on Sunday and charged with “conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government.” The criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit allege that she spent years cultivating ties to high-level Republicans, using connections she forged through associates of the National Rifle Association.

Allegedly acting on the orders of Alexander Torshin, a high-level Russian politician and lifelong NRA member, Butina also sought a “back channel” meeting between Presidents Trump and Vladimir Putin during the 2016 election, the New York Times reported last year.

Butina is being held without bond ahead of her Wednesday hearing in a Washington, D.C. federal court.

According to Driscoll, the FBI’s allegations are “overblown.” All Butina wanted, per his statement, was to “promote a better relationship between the two nations”—a goal she sought to achieve through “open and public networking,” rather than “covert propaganda.”

Driscoll said Butina has been “cooperating with various government entities for months,” voluntarily sitting for an eight-hour closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said she was rebuffed when she offered interviews to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Butina’s case is being handled by the Justice Department’s National Security Division rather than the special counsel. According to the Washington Post, “the investigative work began before [Mueller] was appointed” and continues to be handled by FBI agents and prosecutors outside of his office.

Butina will have some high-powered assistance mounting her defense. Driscoll served as former deputy assistant attorney general under the George W. Bush administration, and as chief of staff of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. A member of the Federalist Society and regular contributor to the National Review, the conservative attorney now leads the Washington D.C. office of the law firm McGlinchey Stafford.

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Russian gun activist Mariia Butina was arrested on Sunday and charged with “conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government” over her alleged effort to promote Russia’s interests by establishing relationships with political figures in the U.S.

Though the affidavit made public on Monday does not name the National Rifle Association (NRA), it appears that references to “Gun Rights Organization” in the document refer to the NRA.

Indeed, photos found on Butina’s Facebook page and elsewhere show that she mixed and mingled with NRA leaders and American politicians. Check out the photo opportunities Butina managed below:

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