Today she was released from federal prison and immediately deported back to Russia.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Convicted Russian agent Maria Butina was released from a Florida prison on Friday after serving most of her 18-month sentence for conspiring to influence U.S. conservative activists and infiltrate a powerful gun rights group, and taken into custody by immigration officials to be deported to her native country. (read more)
Ms. Butina pleaded guilty in December 2018 to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. However, the under-reported backstory to the 31-year-old Russian is actually connected to the 2016 election and FBI efforts to weaponize Ms. Butina as a FISA-enabling virus.
Originally the purpose of Butina coming to the U.S. in 2016, as explained by Patrick Byrne, was for her to engage with influential Americans for political contacts that could provide geopolitical value to the oligarchs.
Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne was seen as important to Ms. Butina due to his connections to the emerging financial structures of crypto-currency and block-chain. Mr. Byrne is a libertarian who believes in small government, and is somewhat of a disruptor in the business world. Ms. Butina wanted to introduce Byrne to her friends in Russia.
Alternative currency options to the U.S. dollar has been an ongoing effort of Russian interests for a while. Russia considers global trade attached to the dollar as geopolitical problem; and they have been working for years on alternative currencies for trade (and their own wealth) that can avoid U.S. sanctions and the reach of the U.S. treasury.
As a Russian national with specific Russian interests that are not in alignment with U.S. national interests, Maria Butina was defined by the U.S. intelligence community as an ‘agent of a foreign power’. Her status meant unrestricted monitoring by the U.S. intelligence community was entirely legal. However, because of this ‘foreign agent’ status Ms. Butina was also a valuable 2016 FISA virus to infect anyone the U.S. intelligence apparatus would wish to target domestically for surveillance.
“Political Espionage” – During the 2016 election season, Butina’s useful purpose appeared to be the reason the FBI in Washington DC enlisted Patrick Byrne as a handler, giving Butina specific instructions and introductions to Republican presidential candidates.
Once those candidates were contacted the FBI’s background surveillance transferred to the republican politicians, including persons in/around the Trump orbit. Mr. Byrne stated several times that FBI Agent Peter Strzok, and persons working on his behalf, was the FBI official directing the engagements.
Byrne claims he was asked to participate in an FBI intelligence operation and to introduce, and/or facilitate the introduction of, Ms. Butina to the campaigns of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
In December of 2015 Mr. Byrne said he became suspicious of the FBI motives because he warned FBI officials of the potential that his efforts, his reputation and those who trust him, may result in Butina gaining entry into campaign confidences. The FBI agents told Mr. Byrne that was exactly the intent.
People high up in the FBI wanted Ms. Butina to gain deep access into the Trump campaign. Mr. Byrne became suspicious of a corrupt political motive, but didn’t say anything at the time.
In/around Feb or March 2016 Byrne was told to focus Ms. Butina’s attention to the campaign of Donald Trump and to diminish any attention toward Rubio or Cruz.
Later in June & July (2016), FBI agents requested Mr. Byrne to focus on developing a closer romantic relationship with Ms. Butina and to use his influence to target her to closer proximity with the Trump family and Trump campaign.
It was within these June and July 2016 engagements where FBI agents were apologetic about the requests and specifically mentioned their instructions were coming from three principle FBI officials Byrne described as “X, Y and Z”. Later Byrne identified FBI Director James Comey as “Z”. Mr. Byrne said the specific instructions were coming to the agents from Special Agent Peter Strzok as he relayed the requests of those above him [X, Y and Z (Comey)].
This FBI contact structure highlights an arms-length operation; perhaps intentionally constructed to create plausible deniability for those above the directly instructing agents.
In essence, these rank-and-file FBI agents were asking Patrick Byrne to be a civilian handler of a Russian national, and instructing him to carry out a covert counterintelligence operation. The FBI agents were apologetic about asking a civilian to take on such a role.
Conducting FISA-702(16)(17) database searches and electronic surveillance on U.S. persons who would meet with Butina would be justifiable and legal.
Extended contact with any U.S. person could lead to a Title-1 surveillance warrant through the FISA court, similar to what happened with Carter Page. However, even without the FISA warrant, 702 searches would be valid just from brief contact.
As we have shown FISA-702 (“16” to-from) and (“17” about) queries were off the charts during the time-frame of November 2015 through May 2016. Per the FISA audit conducted by NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers, after the flags noted by the database compliance officer, 85% of the search returns were unauthorized and unmasked.
The time-frames here are too coincidental to be accidental. [Judge Collyer Report] This was the same period when DC-based FBI officials were telling Patrick Byrne who they wanted him to introduce Ms. Butina to.
From the operational description of Mr. Patrick Byrne it would appear Ms. Butina was used by the FBI to “dirty-up” political targets, opening them up for surveillance.
The FBI/NSA database can be used in real time, or in historic mapping, to monitor people simply by entering their cell phone number and filtering the geolocation. Additionally, texts, call logs, emails, personal data and sensitive electronic communication can all be reviewed by FBI officials using this database.
What Patrick Byrne ended up describing as “political espionage” was an illicit and intentional use of an FBI counterintelligence operation to monitor the political campaign of the opposing party.
Maria Butina likely did have sketchy intentions from a U.S. strategic interest perspective; and monitoring her was perhaps justifiable. However, specifically directing Butina on where to go and who to meet is another kettle-o-fish entirely.
That aspect is likely why Mueller, Weissmann and the corrupt small group within the DOJ and FBI, originally locked away Maria Butina in strict isolation and solitary confinement.
♦ In a Fox Business interview, Patrick Byrne described being offered a $1 billion bribe of sorts to stay quiet in 2018. This piqued many curious questions; however, it is worth noting a bribe as described could come in a multitude of forms for a businessman who operates a massive corporation.
In 2018 Mr. Byrne’s company, Overstock, was also under an SEC investigation.
I’m sure it is just a coincidence, but FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok’s wife, Melissa Hodgman, happens to be the Assoc. Director of the SEC Enforcement Division, who happened to be leading the SEC investigation of Patrick Byrne’s company. [LINK]
So the wife of the FBI agent who was directing Patrick Byrne in the sketchy FBI operation targeting Donald Trump… just happens to open an investigation of Byrne shortly after the corrupt FBI operation containing her husband first hit the headlines in early 2018.
I wonder if the elimination of that SEC investigation was worth, oh, say $1 billion.
Huh, imagine that?
In the last 24 hours multiple media pundits, legal analysts and politicians have asked what intelligence community criminal activity AG Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham could possibly be looking at.
During his short media appearances Patrick Byrne claims he had spoken to the DOJ on April 5th, 2019, and again on April 30th, 2019. Mr. Byrne stated he told the DOJ all of the information he was aware of during those two interviews covering approximately seven hours of questioning from officials in the Department of Justice.
Maria Butina was removed from harsh isolation in prison on May 9th, ten days after Mr. Byrne delivered his testimony to the DOJ. According to Byrne Ms. Butina was moved to a very different White Collar facility based on his information.
Byrne also highlighted the May 13th DOJ appointment of John Durham to look into the origination of the Russia investigation events. Byrne feels this too was likely, at least in part, a direct result of his two DOJ sessions April 5th and 30th.
Yesterday the media began reporting that U.S. Attorney John Durham is conducting a criminal investigation. Today Ms. Butina is released from prison and immediately deported back to Russia.
[*DISCLAIMER* – After originally outlining the process and possibilities within an article in August 2019, CTH received a thankful and congratulatory email from Mr. Byrne stating he was surprised we were able to put it all together.]