The wife of David Keene, a former president of the National Rifle Association, reportedly offered accused Russian spy Maria Butina $1 million to secure a massive amount of Russian jet fuel for an American middleman in a harebrained scheme that got Butina reported to the FBI. According to emails detailing the failed plan obtained by The New York Times, Donna Keene, a Washington lobbyist, reached out to Butina in the spring of 2017 on behalf of a man in Virginia seeking five million barrels of jet fuel—nearly double the amount exported by all of Russia’s refineries in a month. Keene pressed Butina to use her contacts in Russia to get the fuel, at one point suggesting a “soft corporate offer” to Gazprom, according to the report. Butina, who was reportedly coached in her dealings with Keene by her boyfriend, Republican operative Paul Erickson, turned on the charm to seek out prospects for the jet fuel in her homeland, at one point trying to enlist the help of a coffee bean trader. Ultimately, however, the plan fell apart because, according to one Israeli-American businessman familiar with the scheme, Butina and Erickson didn’t “know what they’re talking about.” After several failed meetings with potential partners—often with the help of Keene—a new prospective buyer reported Butina and Erickson to the FBI out of concerns the whole thing was a scam.
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