A former associate involved in President Donald Trump's presidential campaign socialized and invited Maria Butina, a woman charged with operating as a Russian spy, to a Styx concert and his birthday party, according to a report by The Washington Post.
Gordon and Butina exchanged emails in September and October 2016, just ahead of the presidential election, The Post reports. He included a link of a recent appearance he'd made on RT, a Russian state-run news agency, The Post reported.
The Post says the new information puts Butina in closer contact with the Trump campaign than was previously known. They didn't have any additional contact after Gordon's birthday party in October 2016, according to Robert Driscoll, Butina's attorney. She is accused of carrying out a covert influence campaign, befriending prominent USA conservatives and infiltrating organizations like the National Rifle Association.
"From everything I've read since her arrest last month, it seems the Maria Butina saga is basically a sensationalized click bait story meant to smear a steady stream of Republicans and NRA members she reportedly encountered over the past few years", he said in a statement to the paper.
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O'Neill could not be reached for an interview, but he wrote about the dinner on the same conservative website, saying it involved "former and current and Russian officials with a number of prominent U.S. Republicans and conservatives". He also insists he did no official work for the Trump transition team.
Accused Russian operative Maria Butina asked a judge to dismiss a USA indictment charging her with acting as an unregistered agent of the country and appealed an order denying her release from custody. Gordon has not been interviewed by any investigators for Mueller or the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with Mariia Butina, he said. Gordon "would be an excellent addition to any of the U.S./Russia friendship dinners to occasionally hold", Erickson added. In the RT interview, Gordon said Trump took a "real common-sense approach to Russian Federation".
Including Gordon, at least 12 members of the Trump campaign or transition team have now acknowledged interacting with Russian nationals before or after the election. Gordon instead offered an extra ticket to a Styx concert, which he was attending that week.