The FBI has arrested a Russian national, accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States with the intent to influence a major American political party and a "GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION".
A Russian woman living in Washington, D.C., was charged with conspiracy to act as a Russian agent, the Justice Department announced Monday.
Authorities did not name the Kremlin official, who is described as a member of the Russian legislature who later became a top official in the country's central bank.
Prosecutors say the Russian official has since been sanctioned by the U.S.
Butina also attended two National Prayer Breakfasts to foster contacts; an email revealed that the organizer promised her 10 seats at the 2017 event.
Butina, a 29-year-old activist who lives in Washington, was arrested Sunday and made her initial court appearance this afternoon, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
Butina was charged with conspiring to act as an agent of Russian Federation "by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organisations having influence in American politics", it said in a statement.
Butina is a firearms enthusiast, who founded the Russian gun-rights group, the Right to Bear Arms.
The indictment alleges Butina and Torshin, "planned to advance Moscow's long-term strategic objectives in the United States, in part, by establishing relationships with American political organizations, including the GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION".
The charges are not related to the Mueller probe that is examining alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Butina was first introduced to Keene in 2011, in her role as an aide to powerful Russian senator Alexander Torshin.
Butina twice attempted to set up meetings between President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to the New York Times. U.S. Person 1 claimed that the conduit for this back channel was an "unnamed gun rights organization". "These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the US national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation", the Justice Department wrote. A spokesperson for the University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The arrest and criminal complaint are particularly notable because Butina has reportedly had a connection to President Donald Trump's campaign, the National Rifle Association, and Republican operative Paul Erickson.
As NBC News reported in November 2017, Torshin wanted to invite candidate Trump to attend dinner during an NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in May 2016 but the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, rejected the idea. Trump Jr. has said the interaction was brief and not memorable.