03:53 GMT +322 September 2019
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    Ranking House Democrat Says GOP Refused to Question Maria Butina

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    The Republican majority blocked Democrats on the US House Intelligence Committee from calling Maria Butina, a Russian accused of espionage, to testify in Congress, a senior committee member said.

    Speaking to CNN, ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said the GOP refused his request to quiz her or her alleged contact Paul Erickson over concerns this would tarnish the National Rifle Association (NRA).

    "The Republicans were unwilling…They would not explain why but it was very clear that anything that might tarnish the NRA or lead to discoverable evidence that might incriminate the White House or people around the president – they didn’t want to hear," he said.

    it was revealed on Monday that Butina, who was arrested last Sunday, had voluntarily testified in a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee in April. She is accused of acting as an agent for a foreign government.

    Butina's attorney Robert Driscoll said in a statement on Tuesday that she is not a foreign agent and that all the charges filed against her are exaggerated.

    According to the schedule posted on the US District Court for the District of Columbia’s website, Maria Butina will face Judge Tanya S. Chutkan at the next hearing  on July 25 set to begin at 10:15 a.m. local time (14:15 GMT).

    On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry in a post on its official Facebook page said because of the arrest in the United States of Russian citizen Maria Butina a flash mob has been launched to support her. #FreeMariaButina.

    Maria Butina faces up to 15 years in US prison.


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    charges, testimony, Republicans, US House Intelligence Committee, Maria Butina, Adam Schiff, United States
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