On Wednesday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow delved into the latest stunning revelations surrounding Maria Butina, the admitted Russian agent at the heart of a plot to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party — and the connections to a high-ranking State Department official in charge of arms negotiations with Russia.
"Josh Rogin at the Washington Post reports tonight that Maria Butina also turned up at the wedding of Mike Pence's national security adviser," said Maddow. "Mike Pence's national security adviser, Andrea Thompson, got married that summer of 2017, first summer of the Trump Administration. She's got that awesome new job. Getting married and Maria Butina was at the wedding. Why was she at the wedding? U.S. Person One, her boyfriend, Paul Erickson, was officiating the wedding. Oh. It also turns out that the man who Mike Pence's national security adviser, the man who Andrea Thompson was marrying at the wedding that day, he had recently given Paul Erickson $100,000."
"Just a looky loo at the timeline," continued Maddow. "Trump Administration comes into office the beginning of 2017. The summer, Mike Pence's security adviser gets married and her wedding is officiated by Maria Butina's boyfriend. By the end of 2017, there is news reports about Maria Butina and her boyfriend, including her boyfriend offering to be the Kremlin connection setting up secret backchannel meetings for Trump with people from Putin's office. This news is like the front page of The New York Times in December 2017."
"Thereafter, in the spring of 2018, Mike Pence's national security adviser gets put up for a big new job," Maddow said. "So the Senate holds confirmation hearings to decide whether Andrea Thompson will be the Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. She goes through that confirmation process in the spring of 2018, knowing that her new husband had given $100,000 to Maria Butina's boyfriend and Maria Butina's boyfriend officiated their wedding, and had been one of the people setting up the back channels between Putin and Trump, which were widely known to be the subject of an FBI inquiry and a country having its hair on fire ... She knew all of that when she was put up for this top job at the department of state. Going up for Senate confirmation. Apparently none of it came up. Did not mention it."
"You want to know what you do when you have that job?" Maddow added. "You negotiate with Russia. You negotiate with the Russians on arms control treaties. That's your job ... 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. Everybody within an intelligence clearance knows that."
"This is like a plot you would invent in an airport spy novel," said Maddow. "High-level U.S. government negotiator secretly linked to Russia's undercover agent. Russia knows it. But the American public doesn't. What can Russia do with the information now they have the top official over a barrel, as they head into arms negotiations and they know that she knows? It's just insane."