Gov. Walker minimizes interaction with alleged Russian operative

MADISON (WKOW) -- Gov. Scott Walker is minimizing his interaction with then 26-year-old Maria Butina, the woman accused of being a Russian operative, after a photograph from 2015 began resurfacing.

Walker said he doesn’t remember meeting her at a National Rifle Association convention three years ago, calling it just a photo-op not a “meeting.”

"What we did is just about what we do here in Wisconsin every day as we go to events, we meet people, they introduce themselves often they ask for a picture,” said Walker. “That's not a meeting, a meeting is when you sit down in a room and have a discussion.”

The governor clarified that this was the only time he spoke to Butina and called their interaction “casual.” Butina claims he greeted her in Russian, a language Walker did not deny knowing how to speak.

"I don't remember that, I took Russian in college. I took one semester. I took Spanish, French and German, so I thought I would try something new there, but I don't particularly remember that."

Democrats in the state have called for transparency on any interactions Walker had with Butina or other foreign nationals. Butina, now 29, was charged Monday with being a covert Russian agent who gathered intelligence on American officials and political organizations.

Walker noted neither he or his campaign have been contacted by the FBI since then.

"If it was something covert, why would be post that picture on our website?” “It just seems ridiculous to think that would be the case."

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