What Was Maria Butina Doing at the National Prayer Breakfast?

Jul 18, 2018

By Katherine Stewart

Does it seem strange that, according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Monday by the Justice Department, a Russian woman stands accused of “acting as an agent of a foreign government” in part because she hoped “to establish a back-channel of communication” with American politicians at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington?

It shouldn’t. As Jeff Sharlet, an associate professor of English at Dartmouth, has pointed out, the National Prayer Breakfast has long offered “a backdoor to American power.” And America’s homegrown Christian nationalists have evinced an admiration for Russia’s authoritarian leader that appears to have grown apace with his brutality.

On Tuesday, Maria Butina, a 29-year-old Russian whose name was spelled Mariia in court papers, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the Russian Federation. According to the complaint unsealed on Monday, Ms. Butina’s promotional activities for Russian political interests included attending the National Prayer Breakfast twice.

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2 comments on “What Was Maria Butina Doing at the National Prayer Breakfast?

  • There is another article about her connections with Russians and the NRA, here:-


    A Russian woman with ties to a US gun lobby has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to act as a spy for Moscow.

    In the court documents FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson wrote that Butina was attempting to “establish a ‘back channel’ communication for representatives of the Government of Russia.”

    The affidavit also contains apparent communications, by direct message on Twitter, between Butina and the unnamed Russian official.

    In 2017, Butina and the official attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, the affidavit states.

    In February 2017 The Daily Beast reported that Butina had introduced herself as, variously, a Russian central bank staffer, a leading gun rights advocate, a “representative of the Russian Federation,” a Washington, DC, graduate student, a journalist, and a connection between Team Trump and Russia.

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  • If Russian spies can be invited to the Prayer Breakfast and security investigations and convictions for money laundering, can be described as “a witch hunt”, Why not? 🙂
    This is the Trump-World of “alternative facts” in which allies and trading partners are enemies, foreign agents are valued associates, ignoramuses are experts, polluters are in charge of the environment, and lies to a gullible base of supporters, are the order of the day! !


    President Donald Trump has invited Russian leader Vladimir Putin to visit America, in a move that drew startled laughter from a US intelligence chief.

    “That’s gonna be special!” said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, when he was told about the invitation during a live interview.

    A row is continuing over Mr Trump’s first summit with Mr Putin, in Helsinki, where they talked privately.

    Perhaps a president with any competence, would have consulted his US intelligence chief, BEFORE discussing arrangements with Putin! – But hey! – there were serious rounds of golf to be played as advertising for a Trump golf course!

    “Until we know what happened at that two-hour meeting in Helsinki, the president should have no more one-on-one interactions with Putin,” said the top Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer, in a statement. “In the United States, in Russia, or anywhere else.”

    On Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that discussions about a visit by Mr Putin to Washington DC this autumn were already under way.

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