All roads lead to Moscow is the status quo in Trumpworld and has been for quite some time — but this particular Trump Russia connection almost beggars belief. Andrea Thompson, a career U.S. intelligence official, with a top secret security clearance, is the State Department official in charge of arms control negotiations with Moscow. Thompson and her husband are close friends with GOP operative Paul Erickson. Erickson is the former boyfriend of Maria Butina, who as you may recall was convicted for being an unregistered Russian agent. With Butina’s guilty plea (of conspiring to act as an agent of the Kremlin) she became the first Russian national convicted of working to influence U.S. policy during the 2016 election.
Now, Butina’s then-boyfriend, Erickson, was such close friends with Thompson and spouse that he performed their wedding ceremony in South Dakota and Butina was in attendance. And here’s the punchline: Thompson didn’t bother to disclose any of this. Thompson used to work for Mike Pence, who as you recall, knew nothing of Mike Flynn’s work as a foreign agent, until he read it in the Washington Post, just like the rest of us. Apparently, Thompson took a page from Pence’s book and remained silent about things she knew or should have known had to be disclosed. After all, she worked for Pence at a time when Mike Flynn got fired for lying about his own Russian connections. How not to know the right thing to do? Meanwhile, friend Erickson and his then-paramour Butina were busy doing some very interesting things. Washington Post:
In December 2017, after Thompson had left the vice president’s office and was working at the State Department before being nominated for her current role, the New York Times revealed that Erickson had emailed top Trump campaign officials in May 2016 offering to set up a high-level back channel with the Russian government led by President Vladimir Putin.
Under the subject line “Kremlin Connection,” Erickson proposed that Trump could “make first contact” with “President Putin’s emissary” at an upcoming event hosted by the National Rifle Association, of which Erickson was a long-time member. The planned meeting did not take place, according to the Times.
But according to federal prosecutors, this was just one of a series of actions Erickson took in cooperation with Butina to make connections in Republican political circles and set up meetings for Alexander Torshin, who was then a deputy governor of the Russian central bank.
And Erickson was some pal to have. Supposedly, he fleeced Thompson’s husband, David Gillian, for six figures.
Four months before the wedding, Gillian had transferred Erickson $100,000, which federal officials allege Erickson stole from Gillian, FBI and court documents show. Thompson never disclosed these ties to her superiors until approached this week by this columnist, the three administration officials said.
The wedding took place about six months before Erickson and Butina were publicly identified as being connected to Russian influence operations inside the United States. But by the time of Thompson’s confirmation, allegations of the couple’s influence activities had been widely reported.
“When the person who marries you gets into trouble with the Russians and your job is to negotiate with the Russians, you have to disclose that,” a senior administration official told me. “Everybody with an intelligence clearance knows that.”
What Trump administration people know and what they do, are two different things. And have you noticed the pattern? They’re all just hoping like hell that whatever they sweep under the rug remains undiscovered. The dirt under the proverbial rug has lumps as big as the Blue Ridge Mountains right about now, but Flynn, Manafort, Shanahan (whose issue was not Russia, but was a huge, disqualifying cover up in it’s own right) Thompson, the lot of them apparently think if they just keep quiet and pretend it’s not there, they won’t get caught. The cover up is always worse than the crime, but still, they keep spinning the wheel and hoping to get lucky. Problem is, when the roulette you’re playing is Russian, the stakes are much higher; career ending, and sometimes prison making.