Washington Post: State Dept. official failed to disclose ties to Russian agent

Special counsel briefly interviewed Maria Butina, sources say
Facebook/Maria Butina via CNN
Maria Butina at the NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville in 2015.

State Department official Andrea Thompson, who is in charge of arms control negotiations with Russia, failed to disclose her connections to the former boyfriend of convicted Russian agent Maria Butina, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Thompson and her husband had ties to Paul Erickson, a GOP operative and Butina’s former boyfriend, that she did not disclose to her superiors or to Congress during her confirmation process, the Post reports.

Erickson officiated at the wedding of Thompson and her husband, David Gillian, a former senior Australian army officer, three administration officials and Erickson’s lawyer confirmed to the Post.

At the time of the wedding, in June 2017, Thompson was serving as national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, the Post reports.

Federal officials allege that Erickson stole $100,000 from Gillian four months before the wedding, the Post reports, citing FBI and court documents.

Thompson, who holds top security clearances and has worked for decades as a US intelligence officer, did not disclose these ties to her superiors until approached this week by the Post, the three administration officials told the newspaper. Thompson’s failure to disclose her ties is seen within the Trump administration as a serious lack of judgment, according to the report.

Several administration officials suggested Thompson’s failure to report these connections represents an intelligence vulnerability that could have been used against her, the Post reports.

Thompson, through a State Department spokesperson, declined to comment to the Post.

Butina pleaded guilty in federal court in December to attempting to infiltrate Republican political circles and influence US relations with Russia before and after the 2016 presidential election.

Separately, Erickson has been indicted on wire fraud and money laundering charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty. The charges pertain to defrauding investors and are unrelated to the conspiracy that Butina pleaded guilty to.

Erickson’s attorney in Washington, William Hurd, told CNN, “Paul Erickson had known Andrea Thompson and David Gillian for years. He considered them both friends and agreed to officiate at their wedding in 2017.”

“Maria Butina came to the wedding because Paul Erickson was dating her. If Paul had been dating a different woman, then that woman would have come to the wedding,” he said.

Hurd added, “There is no story here. And, in fact, Maria never spoke to the bride and groom beyond saying ‘hello’ and ‘congratulations’ and maybe not even that.”

Butina’s lawyer declined to comment to CNN.

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Post his committee will investigate Thompson’s lack of disclosure to Congress and the FBI.

The State Department declined to comment on the record to the Post. CNN has reached out to the State Department for comment.

Gillian did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.