July 25, 2018
The attorney representing Maria Butina, the Russian national accused of serving as a covert agent for Moscow, on Wednesday rejected the government’s claim that she sought to trade sex for a job.

In a court filing last week, prosecutors alleged that Butina was in touch with Russian intelligence operatives and once offered sex to an unidentified American in exchange for a position with an unnamed special interest group as part of an effort to infiltrate influential political organizations.
“We have no idea what the government is talking about,” Robert Driscoll told a federal judge during a brief scheduling hearing, adding that the widely reported claim has served to inflame public opinion against the 29-year-old Russian gun rights activist who is being held without bond pending trial. “We don’t believe it is true.”
Driscoll asked that prosecutors be required to turn over evidence supporting their claim.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, however, denied the request, saying the defense was not entitled to the information if only to rebut media accounts.
Much of Wednesday’s hearing featured a dispute over how much of the government’s evidence – about 3 million files – should be subjected to a protective order that would restrict public disclosure.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Saunders suggested that the defense had declined to agree to an order so that Butina's team could share information with reporters.
"At this stage, I'm in an unusual situation," Driscoll told Chutkan, explaining that he felt an obligation to respond publicly to "incorrect reporting."
Since Butina's arrest more than a week ago, Driscoll said his client has been at the center of "a negative tsunami" of media coverage, seizing on her work as a vocal, telegenic activist in Russia.
Butina, dressed in an orange jail uniform for Wednesday's hearing, did not speak during the session.
"We are confident that Ms. Butina will be vindicated," Driscoll said following the hearing.
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