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Butina pleaded guilty to not registering as an agent of a foreign government, a charge often used against foreign spies.

But when asked by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan if her mind was clear as she prepared to enter her guilty plea, she replied: "Absolutely".

No sentencing date was set. "That is, she was working for the Russian services as a source to help them spot, assess and target Americans".

The government alleged that Butina had told Russian officials that a candidate in "Party 1" was poised to win the 2016 presidential election and that she had come into contact with a US official who later became a declared presidential candidate.

Butina is one of a number of Russians charged in connection with Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation but is the only Russian national from that group who has appeared in court.

The news comes a few days after the U.S. media reported that Butina had agreed to cooperate with USA authorities as part of a deal made with prosecutors.

Butina was charged in July by USA federal prosecutors in a case that could help them gain insight into Russian efforts to meddle in American politics. Prosecutors say Butina's work was directed by a former Russian lawmaker. Butina will fully cooperate with federal prosecutors in the matter. Alexander Torshin, a Russian government official, was responsible for arranging that meeting, and it's unclear how Butina fits into Torshin's relationship with the NRA.

Butina told the judge that she understands she is likely to be deported back to Russian Federation after serving any prison sentence.

As part of the plea agreement with the government, prosecutors dropped the other count in the indictment originally brought against her, and agreed not to prosecute her for any other crimes they were made aware of during their plea discussions. The filing noted that "US Person 1" helped Butina in a number of ways, including by giving her background information on US figures who came to visit her gun rights group in Moscow, and assessing "their degree of political influence". "He has never done anything to hurt our country and never would". Under the deal, her defense agreed that she could face a recommended zero to six months in prison under federal guidelines, and could seek a lower sentence.

The charge of conspiracy opens the possibility that other people could also be charged in the case. "Butina predicted that the candidate nominated by Political Party #1 would likely win the upcoming United States presidential election". At one point, Butina wrote a note at Torshin's request explaining why Torshin should be permitted to travel to the United States for an annual NRA convention; she was aware that he planned to circulate this note to his superiors.

Butina also hosted "friendship dinners" in the hope of establishing ties with people who "would have the ear of the next U.S. presidential administration", prosecutors said.

"The vaunted American justice in Butina's case is an example of modern political inquisition". He is now under sanction by the Treasury Department for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.