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Scott Walker says he got no gift from Russian charged as agent

Associated Press

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has not been contacted by law enforcement agencies about his encounter with a woman who has been charged with being a covert agent for Russia in the U.S., a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.

Pictures (seen here) taken at the National Rifle Association convention in April 2015 and posted on a website for a group that was supporting Walker’s run for president shows him talking to and posing with the woman, Maria Butina.

Butina, a Russian national who has been living in the U.S., was charged with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government. Federal prosecutors allege that the 29-year-old gun-rights activist served as a covert Russian agent while living in Washington, gathering intelligence on American officials and political organizations and working to establish back-channel lines of communications for the Kremlin.

She met Walker in 2015 and pictures of them together were originally posted on the website of Our American Revival, a super PAC formed to support his run for president.

In one picture, Walker is shown holding a circular, decorative object and examining what looks like a piece of jewelry in a small box. Butina is smiling with her hands out as Walker looks at the items.

Walker did not disclose receiving any gifts from Butina on campaign finance forms.

Walker spokesman Brian Reisinger said Tuesday that Walker did not accept a gift and he has not been contacted by the FBI or other authorities about Butina. Reisinger also said “we know of no one” connected with Walker who has been contacted by authorities.

Butina also posted on her blog a picture taken from Walker’s official presidential campaign launch event in Wisconsin in July 2015, three months after the NRA convention in Tennessee.

Walker is not named in the criminal complaint filed Monday, but an affidavit from an FBI agent alleges that a “Russian official” requested that Butina write a brief report about a political event she was to attend. The politician is not named and neither is the event she was to attend.

Butina, according to the indictment, wrote up a description of the “announcement” event as well as a “previous private meeting with the candidate” at the 2015 gun rights organization meeting.

Reisinger noted that Walker was not named in the criminal complaint. And he repeated that Walker and Butina “never had a meeting” and that Walker was approached by her at the NRA convention where she asked to take a picture, as frequently happens when the governor is out in public.

Wisconsin Democratic Party chairwoman Martha Laning on Tuesday called for Walker to disclose whether his campaign had any contact with Russian nationals or other foreign interests leading up to or during his short-lived presidential campaign.

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