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Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors said in a new court filing that Maria Butina, the Russian national indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday for her role in a covert political influence operation, is a serious flight risk and should be held in jail until her trial.

The big picture: New details in the case against the 29-year-old Butina reveal a tangled web of deception and meticulous coordination with Russian officials — including the FSB intelligence agency and Russian oligarchs — that dates back to at least 2013.

The backdrop: Documents released Monday charge that Butina, a 29-year-old graduate of American University and purported gun rights advocate, worked under the direction of a high-ranking Russian official to "arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence on American politics."

  • Butina was accused of conspiring to set up a "backchannel" of communication between the Kremlin and the Republican Party using the NRA as a conduit.
  • The indictment didn't name a specific Russian official, but Butina has a well-documented connection to Alexander Torshin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin described as a "godfather" in organized crime and a lifelong member of the NRA. Torshin is under investigation by the FBI.
  • Butina and Torshin were involved in at least two efforts to broker meetings between President Trump and Putin, both of which were unsuccessful, according to The New York Times. The pair did, however, meet with Donald Trump Jr. at an NRA-sponsored dinner in 2016.

What's new: The motion filed today claims Butina is a flight risk because of "the nature of the charges, her history of deceptive conduct, the potential sentence she faces, the strong evidence of guilt, her extensive foreign connections, and her lack of any meaningful ties to the United States."

  • The FBI allegedly uncovered numerous communications between Butina and the FSB, including a hand-written note that read, "How to respond to FSB offer of employment?"
  • Other evidence of Butina's covert efforts includes her communications with a Russian official who likened her to Anna Chapman, a Russian spy arrested in the U.S. in 2010. Butina was also in constant contact with Russian oligarchs regarding funding for her influence operation.
  • Butina reportedly gained access to a network of U.S. political influencers by cultivating a personal relationship with a 56-year-old American who matches the description of Paul Erickson, a GOP political operative who was also involved in the effort to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin.

The bottom line: Butina's charges are not part of the Mueller investigation and do not name Trump, but her alleged covert activities over the past five years illuminate yet another component of Russia's massive influence operation in the U.S.

Go deeper

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.

1 hour ago - Sports

Where it stands: Weed policies by U.S. sports league

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With public support for marijuana legalization nearing unanimity, and more athletes using cannabis to treat pain, the four major U.S. sports leagues continue to reduce restrictions and punishments.

Driving the news: NBA players won't be subject to random marijuana testing this season, an extension of an agreement between the league and its players' union that began ahead of the 2020 Orlando restart.

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan discussed Saudi-Israel normalization with MBS

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.