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NEW REPORT: During NRA’s 2016 Annual Convention, Top Putin Ally Tried to Meet With Candidate Trump, Top Campaign Officials in an Attempt to “Arrange a Meeting” Between Trump and Putin

November 30, 2017

In case you missed it, new emails provided to Senate investigators by Jared Kushner have revealed that a top Vladimir Putin ally (and lifetime NRA member) with close ties to NRA leadership, Aleksander Torshin, tried to set up a meeting with President Trump and top campaign aides during the 2016 National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

According to NBC News:

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, failed to disclose what lawmakers called a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” involving a banker who has been accused of links to Russian organized crime, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

An email chain described Aleksander Torshin, a former senator and deputy head of Russia’s central bank who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as wanting Trump to attend an event on the sidelines of a National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in May 2016, the sources said. The email also suggests Torshin was seeking to meet with a high-level Trump campaign official during the convention, and that he may have had a message for Trump from Putin, the sources said.

The New York Times reports that the objective of the proposed meetings during the NRA convention was to “arrange a meeting between Mr. Putin and Donald J. Trump, according to several people familiar with the matter.”

These revelations are new. However, this is only one small piece of NRA leadership’s deep and alarming relationship with Russia, top Putin aides and the Trump campaign.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post published a blockbuster report, which uncovered how, around the same time Russia began a covert campaign to meddle in the presidential election, NRA leaders had “forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally.”

The report found that in 2011, then-NRA president David Keene began a close friendship with Torshin when Torshin was deputy director of the Russian Central Bank. Shortly after, Torshin began building a pro-gun movement in Russia with the help of Maria Butina, who has since claimed to be a go-between between the Trump campaign and Russia. For years, Torshin and Butina traveled to the U.S. to meet with top NRA officials, while NRA leaders have traveled to Russia, and met with Torshin, Butina and a sanctioned Russian official.

This latest report raises a number of new questions, which NRA leadership should answer:

  • Did any NRA officials communicate with Aleksander Torshin about the 2016 election or the NRA’s support for Donald Trump?
  • Was the NRA involved in coordinating the potential meeting between Torshin, top Trump campaign officials and Donald Trump, as laid out in the newly disclosed Kushner emails?
  • A new report found that the NRA spent $419 million in 2016, and more than $50 million to elect Donald Trump and allied members of Congress (far more than they ever spent during a previous election). But the NRA’s funding sources are not public information. So, will the NRA say if any of their funds have come from Russian or other foreign sources?

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