"I don’t understand what she could have pleaded guilty to because she was not there to fulfil any government tasks, I assure you, counter to whatever she was coerced to say under threat of a 12-15 year jail sentence. She and her attorney are fighting to get her out of prison. There was no reason to put her in there, in the first place", he told reporters at his annual press conference.
Butina pleaded guilty last Thursday in front of a US federal judge to one count of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent. Initial charges against her carried a prison sentenced of up to 15 years, but at the moment she may be sentenced to five years and eventually deported to Russia. The next hearing on the case is set for February.