Everyone is waiting to see if Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrests Donald Trump Jr next, and the SDNY is aggressively making moves against seemingly everyone in Donald Trump’s orbit. Even as this plays out, the U.S. Attorney’s office for South Dakota of all places just got in on the Trump-Russia scandal action, arresting Paul Erickson. This is actually a very big deal.
Paul Erickson is best known as the boyfriend of confessed Russian spy Maria Butina. Erickson is also a Republican Party operative with deep ties to the party. Various media reports have asserted that Erickson was knee-deep in working with the Kremlin around the time of the 2016 election.
For now, the Feds in South Dakota have merely indicted Erickson in a fraud scheme in which he allegedly scammed people in wheelchairs by promising them fake toilets, and he pretended to build a bunch of homes in nearby North Dakota, according to the Daily Beast. None of this has anything to do with Trump-Russia, of course, but it doesn’t have to. These are the kinds of felonies that usually result in comparatively swift and easy convictions.
Paul Erickson is pleading not guilty, but he’ll probably soon figure out that he’s very likely headed to prison on these charges. Even if he thinks he can beat the Trump-Russia charges he’s going to end up facing, he’s still going down. If and when he cuts a plea deal, he’ll only be able to gain prosecutors’ favor by selling out his colleagues, whether that be the other Republicans who were working with the Kremlin, or his Republican pals who have committed other various crimes. In other words, this is terrible news for the GOP.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report