In a surprise move, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General has been investigating the Moscow spy and boyfriend of NRA sweetheart, Russian Maria Butina. Paul Erickson is a U.S. citizen. Things are heating up in Washington, D.C. where Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign conspiracy with Moscow. Now this.
Erickson has been a Republican politician for decades. When he hooked up with Butina, the two made the perfect couple to attempt undermining the U.S.A. She has been in jail for acting as a covert foreign agent.
Butina said she worked to link communications between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Erickson sent an email to the Trump campaign in May 2016. In it, he said that he could establish a back-channel meeting between the Russian president Vladimir Putin and Trump. He wrote:
‘Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump. He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election.’
Now, federal investigators have sent Erickson’s attorney what is called a “target letter,” according to The Daily Beast. The U.S. Attorney’s Manual recommends that prosecutors send target letters to warn them that they are in the feds’ sights.
Investigators sent Erickson a letter in September informing him that they are thinking about charging him under Section 951, which was what the government charged Butina with. This was the U.S. code for their crimes:
‘The law barring people from secretly acting as agents of foreign governments.’
The 951 code has rarely been used. In 2016, the DOJ’s inspector general wrote that the National Security Division’s prosecutors call it “espionage-lite.”
This target letter charged the boyfriend with acting as a covert foreign agent and with conspiring to commit a crime. The letter also indicated that the feds may charge him with conspiracy. If Erickson is charged, he will be the first American to be charged with “espionage-lite” in the 2016 Russia investigation.
Former Defense Department attorney and professor at the New York University School of Law (NYU), Ryan Goodman said:
‘Charging an American under 951 in the context of the Russia investigation is especially serious because that statute is generally reserved for espionage-like cases, such as intelligence-gathering on behalf of a foreign government.’
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said:
‘Essentially what it would say is that an American was acting to advance the interests of a foreign power, contrary to the interests of the United States of America.’
Co-chair of the “white-collar practice at Nelson Mullins” Sol Wisenberg said once people receive a target letter, the question of when the indictment follows is open:
‘At the least, it’s a preliminary determination that they’re going to proceed to indictment.’
The Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general wrote in 2016:
‘(A) Section 951 case generally involves espionage-like or clandestine behavior or an otherwise provable connection to an intelligence service, or information-gathering or procurement-type activity on behalf of a foreign government.’
Butina may have been instructed to begin a relationship with Erickson. She and he were both gun-rights activists and easily inserted themselves into the National Rifle Association (NRA). She invited NRA officials to Russia to celebrate a non-existent NRA arm in her home country. Regular Russian citizens are not allowed to own guns. Since the feds arrested and jailed her, NRA membership dropped like a rock.
After Butina was arrested, Erickson was listed as “Person 1” in the court documents. He often boasted:
‘(He) was securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin (and the Republican Party).’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.