While the White House continues to deny the Trump campaign had any contact or coordination with Russia during the 2016 election, a new report suggests that the National Rifle Association (NRA) may have been a conduit through which thousands of dollars of money from Russia was funneled to the Trump campaign team.
“The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.
“FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.”
In recent days, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has turned up the heat in the ongoing Russia investigation, issuing a subpoena to former White House political strategist Steve Bannon and engaging in discussions with Trump’s legal team for the president to speak with Mueller’s team of investigators.
The NRA, which hopped aboard the Trump bandwagon early in the 2016 race for the White House, could be guilty of using foreign money to influence an American election. If so, they could be subject to both monetary penalties and criminal prosecution under federal law. The gun-rights group could also lose their tax-exempt status.
Late last year, it was reported that a member of the NRA told Trump campaign adviser Rick Dearborn in an email last year that he could coordinate a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. As The New York Times noted:
“‘Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” Paul Erickson wrote in the May 2016 email to Dearborn, which included the subject line ‘Kremlin Connection.’
“‘He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election. Let’s talk through what has transpired and Senator Sessions’ advice on how to proceed.'”
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