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Alexander Torshin boasted of his NRA membership, and sought meetings with Trump.2 March 2018
The National Rifle Association’s recent denial that it received money from abroad in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential election could bring a Russian central banker’s part in U.S. politics into the spotlight.
The powerful gun owners’ organization, in a letter to Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, also said the FBI had not contacted it regarding the activities of Alexander Torshin (pictured), a prominent member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party and a deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank, ABC news reported.
The FBI is looking into whether Torshin, an NRA member, illegally funneled money to the NRA as part of a Russian effort to help Trump’s election chances, the McClatchy news agency reported in January.
Torshin “methodically cultivated ties” with the NRA and tried to exploit his ties to the group to gain access to Donald Trump well before his presidential run, U.S. public broadcaster NPR reports.
Torshin is an enthusiastic Twitter user, and the history of his tweets reveals that he attended NRA conventions and was on friendly terms with NRA presidents, NPR says.
In one tweet he thanked the NRA tie for allowing him to act as an observer at the 2012 U.S. presidential election:
"I was there at Obama's last election! The NRA card, to me as an observer from Russia, opened access to any [polling] station."
Ironically, Trump put himself at odds with the NRA, a strong supporter of his presidential bid, when he endorsed stricter gun controls in the wake of the mass shooting of students and staff at a Florida high school.
Torshin also allegedly tried to set up a meeting directly with Trump in 2016, when Trump was closing in on the Republican nomination. The New York Times reconstructed how Torshin, via several proxies, invited Trump to attend an NRA dinner in Nashville, claiming to act on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Trump campaign reportedly declined the invitation on the advice of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and campaign aide, The New York Times said.
Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democratic member of the House intelligence committee, which is investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged contacts with Russia, told NPR it was important to look into “these allegations that the Russians may have sought to funnel money through the NRA.”
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