WASHINGTON — A Russian woman who tried to broker a pair of secret meetings between candidate Donald J. Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, during the 2016 presidential campaign, was charged Monday and accused of carrying out a secret Russian effort to influence American politics.
The Justice Department said in court documents that the woman, Mariia Butina, worked to establish “back channel” lines of communication with American politicians. “These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation.”
Ms. Butina, whose first name is more commonly spelled Maria, twice tried to set up a meetings between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin in 2016. The charges announced Monday do not name Mr. Trump but they make clear that Ms. Butina’s overtures were part of a Russian intelligence operation.
The charges were announced just hours after Mr. Trump stood beside Mr. Putin and said he saw no reason the Russian leader would try to influence the presidential election. Mr. Trump’s own intelligence chiefs have concluded otherwise.
The charges were filed by Justice Department national security prosecutors, not the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whom Mr. Trump has accused of carrying out a witch hunt.