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In connection with Maria Butina, FBI agents reportedly questioned people close to Dmitri Simes, the president of the Center for the National Interest

While investigating Maria Butina for illegal foreign agent activities, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly explored her ties to Russian-American political expert and Center for the National Interest president Dimitri Simes, who has co-hosted a talk show on Russian state television since 2018. Two sources who know Simes told the online project Otkrytye Media (Open Media) that FBI agents previously questioned them about Simes’s connections to Butina. After Butina’s arrest in July 2018, federal agents reportedly visited the Center for the National Interest in Washington, D.C.

The think tank’s lawyer, David Rivkin, told Otkrytye Media that the FBI’s interest is part of a campaign “designed to destroy CNI’s reputation,” saying that the federal agents did not meet with Simes.

This isn’t the first time Dmitri Simes’s name has come up in the Butina case. Last August, historian Yuri Felshtinsky accused Simes of acting as Butina's “U.S. handler.” This February, Reuters reported that the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to Simes, “seeking additional information about meetings with top Russian government officials” that Maria Butina helped organize. Butina also wrote an article in June 2015 that appeared in the magazine The National Interest, which is owned by the Center for the National Interest. Simes’s friends told Bloomberg that his interactions with Butina didn’t surprise them, describing him as an “open person whose job involves contacts in both Russia and the U.S.”

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