Alleged spy once asked Trump about Russia, was a regular at GOP events
Accused sexy Russian spy Maria Butina tried to cozy up to GOP presidential hopefuls — including Donald Trump — as a supposed gun-rights activist before the last US presidential election, according to reports.
At the Nevada Freedom Festival in July 2015, Butina got the chance to ask then-candidate Trump a question during a Q&A session inside a Vegas hotel ballroom. Trump, standing at a podium, appeared to perk up when the then-26-year-old woman announced where she was from.
“Ah, Putin, good friend of Obama . . . He likes Obama a lot,” Trump said sarcastically, referring to the Russian leader.
Butina asked Trump about his plan for working with her country – particularly if he would continue America’s “damaging” sanctions against it.
Trump used the opportunity to launch a diatribe against Obama and promoted the ‘keep your enemies closer’ strategy that has become a hallmark of his presidency.
“Obama gets along with nobody. The whole world hates us,” Trump said. “And yet they make money with us.
“With me we’re going to make money on them, and they’re going to like us.”
Then he spoke in what were – back then – shocking terms about the Kremlin leader.
“I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin. I don’t think you would need the sanctions,” he said. “I think we would get along really well. I really believe that.”
Trump wasn’t the only candidate who encountered Butina during the race.
She was charged Wednesday with acting as a foreign agent.
As GOP campaigns for the 2016 election ramped up, so did the sultry red-head’s efforts to infiltrate conservative circles – and they worked.
Around the same time she caught Trump’s attention, Butina went on a conservative radio talk show hosted by Trump-backer Eric Metaxas.
She told his conservative listeners what she said was her life story: “My father is a hunter, I was born in Siberia,” a narrative she continued to tell as she climbed social ladders in GOP circles, sometimes sleeping her way up, prosecutors claim.
In addition to the romantic relationship she allegedly had with GOP consultant Paul Erickson, she buddied up to presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker.
Santorum is pictured in social-media photos with his arm around Butina, who is sporting a smile, a pearl necklace and a floral dress.
In another snap taken at a different event, Walker stands between Butina and her assumed handler – now the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, Alexander Torshin — looking jovial.
And on a third occasion, at what appears to be a banquet dinner, Butina and Jindal smiled for the lens.
Her run with Republicans came to a screeching halt Sunday when she was arrested by US authorities, allegedly as she prepared to flee the country.
She now sits behind bars without bail.
Meanwhile, Republicans are dismissing the charges as an effort to undermine Trump’s budding relationship with Putin.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s stupid,” said a Republican congressman who is embroiled in the spy scandal, US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), to Politico.
“She’s the assistant of some guy who is the head of the bank and is a member of their Parliament,” he said, referring to Torshin.
“That’s what we call a spy? That shows you how bogus this whole thing is.”
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