Trump campaign aide socialized with alleged Russian agent during 2016 campaign: report

Trump campaign aide socialized with alleged Russian agent during 2016 campaign: report
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The Russian woman who was indicted on charges of acting as an unregistered agent of Moscow reportedly socialized with an associate of then-candidate Donald Trump's during the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Citing documents and testimony that was provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee and later described to the newspaper, The Washington Post reported Friday that Maria Butina had many interactions with former Trump campaign aide J.D. Gordon over email. Gordon served as the Trump campaign's director of national security for six months until departing in August 2016 for a role on Trump's transition team. 

The Post reported that Gordon and Butina exchanged multiple emails in September and October 2016. In one, Gordon invited Butina to a concert for the rock band Styx in Washington. In another email, Gordon invited Butina to attend his birthday party in late October of that year. 

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The Post also details other correspondence between the two, which included them meeting at a party at the Swiss ambassador’s residence in late September of 2016. 

The report makes Gordon the latest in a string of people who have so far been found to have interacted with Butina. The Department of Justice alleges that Butina was being directed by a "high-level" Russian official as she forged relationships with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and conservative politicians from 2015 to 2017. 

Gordon downplayed the significance of his correspondence with Butina in a statement to the Post. 

“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,” Gordon said.

“I wonder which prominent Republican political figures she hasn’t come across?” Gordon also asked, the Post reported. 

Butina's attorney, Robert Driscoll, also pushed back against the significance of Gordon and his client interacting, telling the Post that the "evidence is clear that there wasn’t any significant contact."

The report about Gordon's interactions with Butina comes about a week after Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherExpanding Social Security: Popular from sea to shining sea Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds Democrats need a worthy climate plan MORE’s (R-Calif.) office confirmed he met with the then-28-year-old Russian at French eatery Bistro Bis in Washington, D.C., in February 2017. 

According to prosecutors, Butina entered American University as a graduate student in 2016 to attempt to interfere in U.S. politics. The move, U.S. intelligence officials say, occurred at the same time the Kremlin was attempting to interfere in U.S. elections to benefit Trump's presidential bid.