Cari G. Lutkins: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Twitter Cari Lutkins not Maria Butina

Late Monday, a few hours before Pres. Donald Trump was to land following a near 12-hour flight from Helsinki following what was arguably the most ignominious of press conferences by world leaders in modern times, a photograph began circulating that thousands shared on Twitter that purports to show Maria Butina in the Oval Office with Trump and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The photograph was taken on Wednesday May 10, 2017, when Trump and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted Lavrov and Kislyak. The day before, Trump had fired then FBI director James Comey for “that Russia thing.”

Many have questioned the authenticity of the photograph suggesting the image must be photo-shopped and popping up at a very interesting time; Butina has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice as a Russian spy it was announced Monday.

Cari Lutkins

Since, photographs of Butina with GOP members of Congress, NRA officials and others are being looked at as incriminating for some. There are two of 12 images from that meeting taken by Russian state news that show a woman people have been saying is Butina — in the Oval Office with Russians and the president. In one wide shot, the woman is seen peeking out from behind others.

The only published photographs of that meeting came from Russian-state news agency Tass while all journalists were prohibited from being in the room. The New York Times, among other newspapers, cable and online news media and foreign journalists were denied access to the meeting. Indeed, the Times’ devoted a story to that fact and included as its top art, a photograph of the controversial meeting provided to the Times and other news outlets.

A White House photographer and a Russian government photographer were the only ones allowed in the room, the White House said at the time. The photographer is part of the government, but the state-run news agency Tass who published the image and dozens more.

The White House said at the time it was blind-sided.

But here’s the thing you need to know, it’s likely not Butina. A National Security Council source told Buzzfeed it’s Cari Lutkins, an NSC staffer.

Cari Lutkins has red hair and Maria Butina has red hair.

“Obviously, the only solution is for Cari Lutkins to dye her hair in order to stop confusing social media sleuths. We’re the real victims here.”

The photo that ran with the Times story from the spring of 2017 has been tweeted and retweeted hundreds of times.

Cari Lutkins

Oval Office photo with Cari Lutkins who people said was Maria Butina

That Lutkins may resemble Butina is not in dispute. But she just may be the most inconvenient doppelganger in history given the events of the past few days with Trump’s capitulation to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which many say is tantamount to treason. And then the announcement that Putin-linked Butina had been charged as a Russian spy.

At the time, it was thought possible that the Oval Office was bugged by the Russian photographer. Wired did a whole piece devoted to the possibility and looked at bugging of American government by Russia in the past, as recently as 1998 when a bug was found in a state department conference room to the possibility a photographer might have successfully planted a listening device, albeit likely not undiscovered for long.

Now some were asking could Butina have planted a device; she’s an accused Russian spy so, it’s not an outlandish notion. But since it’s not Butina, so much for that theory.

Many of the tweets with dozens, and even hundreds, of likes and shares are quickly being deleted.

So since she’s now a thing, here’s what you need to know about Cari Grace Lutkins:

1. Lutkins, Now 24, Worked for the RNC as a Media Relations Coordinator for the 2016 Republican National Convention

Cari Lutkins

UA White Crimson Lutkins photoCari Lutkins, Lee Bonner and Paige Lindgren

In a 2016 story in The Crimson White, the University of Alabama news site, Lutkins was featured with two other US alumns who worked on the July 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Lutkins had just graduated from UA when she was hired by the Republican National Committee as the Associate Director for Regional and Caucus Media. Living in Washington, D.C., she told The Crimson White, she said her job in Ohio was “media relations …so a lot of it is making sure we’re staying ahead of the press.”

She told the university publication her days were long but the “experience has been more than worth it.”

Indeed, she’d be rewarded.

2. Lutkins Was on Trump’s National Security Council Transition Team at Age 22

cari lutkins

NSC staffer Cari Lutkins and White House National Security Advisor John Bolton

In late June, with staffer Lutkins by his side, White House national security adviser John Bolton said the U.S. and the Kremlin had worked out the details for the meeting between Trump and Putin.

Initially, Lutkins was named as a Trump transition team member for the NSC under Lt. General Michael Flynn.

Cari Lutkins

Cari Lutkins Facebook post from UK trip in mid July.

Now a staffer at NSC, Lutkins was on the UK trip last week and posted this image to her Facebook page.

3. Lutkins Was an Intern at the Tax Foundation. In a Facebook Post, the Foundation Raved About the 22-Year-Old. Lutkins Deleted Her Facebook Tuesday

Cari Lutkins

Cari Lutkins Instagram profile picture

According to the Tax Foundation, the nation’s leading independent tax policy research organization, Lutkins was for a summer intern in 2015, part of a group of 10 out of more than 100 applicants.

“Since 1937, our principled research, insightful analysis, and engaged experts have informed smarter tax policy at the federal, state, and local levels. We improve lives through tax policy research and education that leads to greater economic growth and opportunity,” the Foundation describes itself on its website.

The Tax Foundation said Lutkins, then a “rising senior” meaning she was in between her junior and senior year at college, was a political science major and minored in “business and public policy concentrates her studies and domestic policy in American politics and elections.”

4. Lutkins Was a Congressional Intern in 2014 for Then-House Majority Leader Republican Eric Cantor

cari lutkins

GettyIn 2014, Cari Lutkins worked as an intern for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Here Cantor speaks to the media while flanked by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (C), after attending the weekly House Republican conference .

In a 2014 article from the UA College of Arts & Sciences, the Potomac Falls, Virginia native was profiled for her work in Then-House Majority Leader Republican of Virginia Eric Cantor’s office and shared her life on the Hill. She said working with interns from around the country was great and she expected those relationships to be of “benefit to me far into the future,” but it was the window into her “dream” to work on Capitol Hill that was most fulfilling.

“I have been able to see first-hand how politics in D.C. work, and my internship has connected me with so many staff members and other employees on the Hill that I hope to work with again in the future,” she was quoted as saying.

“Another beneficial part of my internship is the fact that Congressman Cantor is currently running for re-election in his district, and the interns have helped contribute to the campaign. We are going to Richmond this weekend to do some door-knocking and attend a couple of his fundraising rallies. This has been particularly beneficial to me because I have always wanted to work on a campaign, and this is a good starting point,” Lutkins was quoted as saying in 2014.

5. Lutkins Was a Member of a Number of Greek Organizations, Both Social & Academic, While at UA

Lutkins was the Tri Delta sorority Vice President of Chapter Development and Head of Standards.

She was also a member of Greek honor societies including Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha and Order of Omega. In this image from the sorority’s Instagram page, she’s seen after being inducted into the Order of Omega.

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