Two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling on the panel to examine whether top officials at the National Rifle Association (NRA) were aware of Russia’s attempts to contribute money to the Trump campaign through the gun rights group. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) pressed Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to hold public hearings on the matter, a request that comes after federal authorities indicted a Russian woman last week that they allege acted as a Kremlin agent. Maria Butina was indicted for allegedly working to advance Russia’s interests by cultivating relationships with Republican power players as well as infiltrating “organizations active in U.S. politics.”
While the groups and individuals she formed relationships with go unnamed in the indictment, Butina is believed to have been in a relationship with a Republican political operative — listed as “U.S. Person 1” — who authorities say played a key role in helping her gain access to other influential people.
This individual, according to the indictment, wrote an email in October 2016 saying he has been “involved in securing a very secure line of communication” between the Kremlin and what is believed to the Trump campaign and the NRA.