In January, McClatchy reported that special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating whether the National Rifle Association was a conduit for money from Russia to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. In a follow-up report on Monday, the outlet indicated that a clearer picture was emerging of possible connections.
“Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to photographs and an NRA source,” Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy write. “The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.”
Torshin, now under sanction by the United States government, is a high-ranking official who serves as the deputy director of the Russian government’s central bank. He is also under investigation by Spanish authorities for alleged connections with money laundering operations. Torshin has denied any connections to Russian mobsters or of funneling money to the NRA.
The NRA spent $30 million dollars on Trump’s campaign in 2016 and another $40 million in various efforts to lobby and help elect Republicans. Much of this spending was dark money, making it difficult to trace the source and how it was spent.