CNN reports that Maria Butina, who is accused of trying to influence GOP party leaders and the NRA by creating a back channel for Russia during the 2016 presidential election, has filed a two-page document with the court asking for a plea change.
Butina pleaded “not guilty” to being a foreign agent for Russia in July. She was ordered to remain in custody when the court determined that she was a flight risk, having been making plans to flee the country when she was arrested. She remains in solitary confinement, according to her lawyers, while she waits for a hearing to be set to hear her change of plea. The filing, signed by her attorney and federal prosecutors, requests a hearing be set on December 11, 12, or 13.
Maria Butina gained entrance to Republican circles as a gun rights proponent who formed a group called “Right to Bear Arms” in Russia. The 30 year-old is believed to have been in contact with high level Russians, Alexander Torshin, a sanctioned Russian oligarch, and a diplomat believed to be a Russian Intelligence Officer, during her time in the US.
Court filings at the time of her arrest note that her live-in relationship with the 56 year-old Paul Erickson was a “necessary part of her activities”. Erickson was a GOP political activist and a long time member of the NRA who sought to use his relationship with both the NRA and Butina to create a channel of communication between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.