In 2015, the US think tank organized meetings between Torshin and then-Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer and Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs Nathan Sheets.
"The Center for the National Interest did not arrange any meetings for Maria Butina. We facilitated meetings for Alexander Torshin, in his capacity as a vice chairman of Russia’s Central Bank. It was his decision that Maria Butina would accompany him as an interpreter," Saunders said.
A State Department official responsible for US-Russia relations also spoke at that event, Saunders noted.
On July 15 US authorities arrested Butina on charges of acting as a foreign agent for the Russian government. She denies the accusation.
Butina has been denied bail and remains in custody for allegedly being a flight risk. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in jail.