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Russian national arrested for trying to infiltrate the NRA

Vladimir Putin in background in focus looks concernedly at Trump, in foreground, blurry.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Maria Butina, a Russian national, has been arrested for failing to register with the Attorney General while operating as a foreign agent in the U.S. as part of an effort to infiltrate the NRA, according to the affidavit filed in a U.S. district court.

Why it matters: This shows Russian efforts to meddle in U.S. politics go beyond hacking and social media influence campaigns — it's also about wheeling and dealing with influencers. Butina was also a part of Russian efforts to create a backchannel of communications as part of the campaign, which Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have approved, according to messages obtained by the FBI.