The FBI is looking into whether a Russian banker with close ties to Putin and the Kremlin sent money to the National Rifle Association (NRA) during the presidential campaign to help push Trump to victory. The NRA spent an estimated $30 million supporting the Trump campaign, and as the original McClatchy report notes, it’s against the law to use foreign money for funding in federal elections.
The banker in question is Alexander Torshin, who, as a lifetime member, maintains a close relationship with the NRA. Torshin has a reputation for engaging in shady and illegal activity, including money laundering. He is reportedly seen as a “godfather”-like figure within the Russian criminal organization Taganskaya.
The story gets even more complicated given the numerous occasions Torshin has been linked to the Trump campaign. In May 2016, the president’s eldest son attended a private dinner hosted by the NRA, where Torshin was also present. Trump Jr.’s attorney confirmed that the two men had spoken during the event, but said the conversation had been limited to “small talk” about guns.
Torshin also attempted to set up a meeting between Putin and then-candidate Trump, but the proposal was nixed by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who objected to it because of the possibility that Torshin would be the type of person to “go back home and claim they have special access to gain importance for themselves.”
In February 2017, Torshin had been set to meet President Trump, but the White House canceled after apparently learning of his mobster dealings.
Whether or not the Trump campaign agreed to collude with Torshin specifically, his repeated attempts to connect Trump with Putin show that it’s plausible that the NRA — if they accepted money from Torshin — helped promote Trump foreign funds from a Russian actively trying to stop a Clinton victory.