GOP operative boyfriend of alleged Russian agent receives ‘target letter’ from feds: report

The boyfriend of alleged Russian agent Maria Butina, GOP political operative Paul Erickson, has been told he may face similar accusations of acting as a covert agent, The Daily Beast reports.

The publication reviewed a "target letter" federal investigators sent to Erickson's lawyer, which said they are considering charging him for acting as an agent of a foreign government and for conspiracy.

The letter was sent in September and did not accuse Erickson of any specific crimes or guarantee that he will face charges. 

If he does, The Daily Beast reports that Erickson would be the first American charged under Section 951, which prohibits people from acting as agents of a foreign government, in connection with Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

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A person familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast that federal law enforcement officers have spoken to people around Erickson, some of whom have given statements to the FBI. 

Law enforcement reportedly asked those people about Erickson's business dealings and his reputation in conservative political circles.

Several of Erickson's former business partners have claimed he defrauded them and the U.S. attorney's office in South Dakota is investigating the matter.

Staff members on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, have also interviewed Erickson.

Erickson's lawyer told the Senate staff he would invoke the Fifth Amendment if subpoenaed to testify, someone familiar with the communications confirmed to The Daily Beast.

The attorney representing Erickson on the Intelligence Committee matter declined to comment to the news outlet. 

A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. also declined to comment.