Maria Butina’s Private Messages Show Accused Spy’s D.C. Connections

Head of the Center for the National Interest previously said interaction with Butina was limited. Emails and DMs show otherwise.

Mariia Butina, whose name is sometimes spelled Maria, was arrested in Washington on July 15, 2018 and appeared in court on July 16, the Justice Department said. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

When federal prosecutors charged Maria Butina with infiltrating the conservative movement on behalf of the Kremlin, the Washington think tank that had published her pro-GOP writing, and hosted then-candidate Donald Trump’s Russia-friendly first foreign policy speech, tried to distance themselves. The executive director of the organization, the Center for the National Interest, said that its interaction with Butina was “very limited,” according to The Daily Beast. But previously unreported emails and direct messages between Butina and officials at the center show that her relationship with the think tank’s president, former Richard Nixon adviser Dimitri Simes, was closer than previously thought.

The Daily Beast writes that Simes looked to use his connections with Butina and her associate, Russian Central Bank official Alexandr Torshin, to further the business interests of one of the Center’s most generous donors, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the one-time CEO of insurance and financial services giant AIG. The Daily Beast writes that there is no evidence Greenberg requested the outreach or was even aware of it.

“It is always nice to hear from you,” Simes wrote to Butina in one of the messages reviewed by The Daily Beast. “Please of course also pass my best wishes to Alexander Torshin. We really appreciate his willingness to help with the Hank Greenberg visit to Moscow.”

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