Swalwell says Butina guilty plea shows 'influx of Russians' into US ‘political bloodstream’

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Chris Christie says Trump team wasn't aggressive enough early in COVID-19 crisis; Tensions between White House, Fauci boil over Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO Swalwell: Trump 'makes us look like geniuses every day for impeaching him' MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Maria Butina’s guilty plea of conspiring to act as a foreign agent in the U.S. shows "an influx of Russians" into America’s "political bloodstream."

Swalwell claimed that Butina's case represented a direct result of President TrumpDonald John TrumpProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious' White House considers sweeping travel ban on members, families of the Chinese Communist Party: report MORE trying to cozy up to Russia.  

“The Maria Butina plea today represents that over the past two years, our country has seen just an influx of Russians into our political bloodstream and that’s something that did not exist until Donald Trump came on the scene,” Swalwell told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball.

“When you look at the sixteen Trump family members, campaign officials and administration folks who had contacts with Russians throughout the campaign and you look at the Butina plea deal, you start to see an eagerness and willingness to work with the traditional American adversary,” he continued.

Swalwell's comments came after Butina, an alleged Russian agent, admitted on Thursday to trying to infiltrate American political organizations leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Butina, who was arrested and charged earlier this year with acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government in the U.S., pleaded guilty on Thursday after previously entering a plea of not guilty.

CNN reported earlier this week that at least 16 Trump associates had contact with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign or during their transition into the White House. These exchanges were conducted through phone calls, text messages and face-to-face meetings. 

Swalwell said such contact with Russian officials is "dangerous" for U.S. national security, and called on incoming Democrats in the 116th Congress to hold the Trump administration accountable. 

"It’s all the more reason that a new Congress can put a balance of power on these abuses that we continue to see from the Trump administration," he said. 

Trump and his associates have repeatedly denied any allegations of having colluded with Moscow in the run up to the 2016 election.

So far, at least 33 people and three companies have been indicted or pleaded guilty as a result of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 

This group is composed of five former Trump advisors, including Trump's former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTop Mueller prosecutor: 'We could have done more' in Russia investigation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump turns to immigration; primary day delays expected GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe MORE and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. 

Cohen and Manafort have been increasingly under scrutiny over their contacts with Russians during the campaign. Mueller revealed in a court filing Friday that Manafort lied to prosecutors about his recent contacts with the White House and an associate with suspected ties to Russian intelligence.

 — Tess Bonn