In March 2015 both Maria and Paul agreed to conspire with the Russian government making both of them Russian spies with contracts. Their covert operations would be directed by their handler Torshin for the Kremlin to affect politics in America.
Open Question: Was Trump involved at this early date? If not, when? We know Trump used Cohen in Nov 2015 to signal willingness to Russia.
Verified: In court documents: Maria Butina’s court documents released Dec 13, 2018.