Prosecutors Walk Back ‘Red Sparrow’ Claim Against Alleged Russian Agent Maria Butina

Federal prosecutors have backed off their claim that accused Russian agent Maria Butina tried to swap sex for access in Washington. Butina’s attorney had blasted the assertion–based on a text message–as a “sexist smear.” And in their latest court filing, the U.S. Attorney's Office conceded that “the government’s understanding of this particular text conversation was mistaken.” Butina’s lawyer seized on the admission as evidence that prosecutors were also wrong when they alleged that his client’s relationship with Republican operative Paul Erickson was a sham and that she was using him to infiltrate political circles in the U.S.