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By Tom Winter

Lawyers for alleged Russian operative Mariia Butina have entered into negotiations with federal prosecutors, according to a document filed in federal court Friday.

The two sides requested to postpone the next hearing in the case because they are currently “in negotiations regarding a potential resolution of this matter,” indicating that they are working towards a plea agreement.

Butina is accused of acting as an agent of Russia in the D.C. area and faces charges of conspiracy and failing to register as a foreign agent.

She was arrested and charged in July for allegedly conspiring with her ex-boss to infiltrate politically powerful U.S. organizations, including the NRA, and push Moscow’s agenda.

Butina came to the U.S. in August 2016 on a student visa. Previously, she served as a special assistant to a Kremlin crony whose description in court papers matches that of Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator and deputy head of Russia’s central bank who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Torshin was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April 2018 along with several other Russian oligarchs and has been accused of links to organized crime, as NBC News previously reported.

In a statement issued by her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, after her arrest, Butina denied being a Russian agent. Driscoll called her an “A” student at American University who has been “cooperating with various government entities for months regarding public allegations related to her contacts with various American and Russian individuals.”

He said she testified behind closed doors before the Senate Committee on Intelligence and offered to speak to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Butina was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., unconnected to Mueller’s investigation.

The Russian Government has strenuously denied that Butina has any ties to official government conduct.

In the court filing, U.S. prosecutors requested that the court extend the current phase of the case, called a status conference, an additional two weeks, to give both sides time to continue the negotiations.



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Trump lawyers, special counsel in discussions following written submission of president’s responses

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Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Kristen Welker

WASHINGTON — The president’s lawyers have resumed discussions with the office of special counsel Robert Mueller in recent days, the first time that’s been acknowledged since President Donald Trump submitted written responses to questions regarding the possibility of collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News on Thursday.

The president submitted answers to some questions on Nov 20th. At the time, his lawyers said publicly that he would only answer questions regarding the Russia probe and nothing regarding the possibility of obstruction of justice.

The sources would not characterize the nature of the discussions: whether Mueller is pressing for an in-person interview, or how close the process is to wrapping up.

Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC contributor, told NBC news the next logical step for prosecutors would be to focus on two types of further inquiries. The first would be follow-up questions.

“They may ask for clarification or additional information on some of the answers,” Vance said.

“The second is they will reopen the conversation about whether the president will submit to an in-person-interview,” she added.

When asked about the timing, Vance said: “The timeline makes sense. We’re coming into the holidays, they likely don’t want to let it lag for too long. If they want to follow up before the holidays, then this week would be the time to do that.”

Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s outside attorneys told NBC News: “We don’t’ discuss conversations we’ve had or have not had with the special counsel.”

Rudy Guiliani, who also represents Trump privately, declined comment.

Chuck Rosenberg a former federal prosecutor who once served as chief of staff to Mueller when he was FBI director said, “it’s not uncommon for the two sides in a big case to be talking all the time.”

Trump has repeatedly denied knowledge of any collusion between his campaign and Russia, which interfered with the 2016 election, according to the official U.S. intelligence assessment. The president has also repeatedly referred to the investigation as a “witch hunt.”



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'They SHOUTED me down!' – McVey ATTACKS Cabinet after resignation over May Brexit deal

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THERESA MAY’s Cabinet “astounded” Esther McVey when she demanded a vote on the Prime Minister’s “terrible” Brexit deal, the former Work and Pensions Secretary has revealed.

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Trump expected to tap State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert for new U.N. ambassador

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Nauert is a former “Fox & Friends” anchor who has served as State Department spokeswoman since April 2017. She would replace outgoing Ambassador Nikki Haley.

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