What is the connection between the National Rifle Association and a banker backed by the Kremlin?
CNN reported Friday that the NRA is poring over documents and pulling years of material that concern its interactions — and financial ties — with Alexander Torshin, who is among the 17 high-profile Russian government officials recently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Torshin is a lifelong member of the NRA, though the NRA is reportedly “reexamining” its relationship with him in light of the recent sanctions. Sources familiar with the situation tell CNN that the NRA “appears to be bracing for a possible investigation.”
The NRA recently found itself facing allegations that the FBI was investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money through the group to bolster Trump, according to a McClatchy report. The NRA has publicly denied any contact from the FBI and insisted it hasn’t accepted illegal donations.
Despite the public denials, officials at the gun-rights group have been anxiously preparing as if they were already under investigation, sources said. Some employees have been tasked with preserving years of documents mentioning Torshin or his associate, Maria Butina, who runs a pro-guns group in Russia, a source familiar with the situation said. Privately, some officials have expressed anxiety about a potential investigation and the group’s Russian ties.
The NRA did not comment.
The House intel committee's Minority report reveals that an NRA official served as a conduit between the Trump campaign & Russia — but Republicans refused to investigate it.
My latest (a deep dive) …https://t.co/Nc4i38CQ0T
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) April 28, 2018
Meanwhile, the FBI is reportedly “investigating if Torshin illegally donated to the NRA to support President Trump’s 2016 campaign.” On his public, verified Twitter account, Torshin has bragged about how his connections to the NRA granted him access to Trump.
Though the NRA initially claimed that, from 2012 to 2018, the group had received just one contribution from one Russian, earlier this month they admitted they had actually gotten 23 donations from individuals with Russian ties — just since 2015.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has repeatedly pressed the NRA for more answers about the money the group may have received from Russian nationals, though the organization has mostly dodged the ongoing congressional inquiries. Instead, more details have gradually emerged about the NRA’s connections to Russia through independent reporting.