NRA Connected GOP Strategist Investigated as Possible Kremlin Agent
Paul Erikson, Maria Butina’s boyfriend, and a Republican strategist is under investigation over concerns he was also acting as an unregistered Russian agent.
Maria Butina is currently in jail over suspicions she acted as a Russian spy and infiltrated the American gun rights movement to promote Russian interests. The Daily Beast reports that her boyfriend, Paul Erikson, a conservative activist who served on the Mitt Romney and Pat Buchanan presidential campaigns and also acted as Butina’s guide as she navigated the NRA, is also the target of federal investigators.
A letter sent to Erikson in September from investigators working for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, informed Erikson they were considering bringing charges against him, although it did not guarantee he would face charges or directly accuse him of any crimes.
The letter outlined charges under Section 951 of the U.S. Code, the section which prevents people from secretly acting as intelligence agents for a foreign government. If these charges materialize, Erikson would be the first American involved in the 2016 Russia investigation charged under espionage charges, the Daily Beast reports.
Butina and Erikson have previously worked together on several negotiations between Russian and American business people. In 2017, the Daily Beast reports, the pair were involved in negotiations between an American purchaser interested in procuring Russian jet fuel.
Erikson is also a person of interest for the Senate intelligence committee. The committee is currently looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and has also asked to speak with Erikson regarding election meddling.
The committee has questions surrounding an email Erickson wrote to the Trump campaign in the run-up to the 2016 election offering to arrange a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reported.