Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina bragged about her connections to “high-ranking Kremlin officials” and even “shopped access to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” according to emails obtained by ABC News. In correspondences between August 2015 and November 2016, Butina reportedly attempted to arrange a meeting between “high-ranking ” National Rifle Association members and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. She also worked with the Outdoor Channel on a show about Putin’s “love of the outdoors” that was supposed to feature the Russian president. In an email to a senior executive at the Outdoor Channel, Butina wrote that her “contacts directly within the President’s office” were “VERY happy (and excited).” The NRA delegation’s meeting with Lavrov apparently occurred, ABC News reports.
In a statement, the Outdoor Channel said CEO Jim Liberatore joined the NRA trip to Moscow to examine the “feasibility of expanding” the company’s operations in Russia and “developing Russia-origin content that included Mr. Putin.” The statement adds that Liberatore “does not recall being at any meeting with Mr. Lavrov.” The channel also said it retained Butina as an “in-country consultant” for four months and paid her $20,000. Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, confirmed the authenticity of the emails and told ABC News that Butina simply takes “her opportunities where she finds them.” Butina was arrested in July for allegedly working as a Kremlin agent while making connections with NRA members and conservatives.