In a dramatic development yesterday (Jan 18), several news services reported that the National Rifle Association is being investigated by the FBI to see whether it channeled money from Russian intelligence and/or criminal sources to the Trump campaign.
According the McClatchy Report’s writers Peter Stone And Greg Gordon, “FBI counterintelligence investigators” are examining ties between the NRI and Putin associate Alexander Torshin, the Deputy Governor of the Russian Central Bank, and also a member of the NRA. Toshin has been accused of money laundering by Spanish investigators, and is said to be the head of a Russian criminal organization known as the Tambovskaya.
It is not clear whether the probe of the NRA is connected with Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia, but Stone and Gordon note that there seem to be more than a few hints of a link between the two inquiries.
Meanwhile, ThinkProgress is also reporting on the story. Josh Israel cites Stone and Gordon, and also notes that ThinkProgress has been following the NRA’s relationship with Russian nationals since 2016. In particular, says Israel, there are disturbing connections between the NRA and the Russian gun rights group, “The Right to Bear Arms,” which is in turn headed up by Maria Butina, a “twenty-something” woman whose “close friend and boss” happens to be Alexander Toshin.
Burtina has also traveled to the United States and been a guest at several NRA functions.
As of press time, the story remained sketchy and few details were available. However, among the many publications covering it were Newsweek, The Hill, Esquire, CNN, Axios, The New York Daily News, and the Daily Beast.