The National Rifle Association’s 2016 annual convention was held in May of that year in Kentucky. Donald Trump Jr. attended, as he had in the past. So did Alexander Torshin, also a regular at NRA events. The two ended up speaking briefly at a dinner in Louisville, though details of that encounter are sketchy. Why does it matter? Because Torshin is a Russian government official, a representative of the country’s central bank and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. How Torshin and Trump Jr. came to be in the same room together and why is one of the smaller mysteries orbiting the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, but not an insignificant one: Mueller is reportedly investigating whether the NRA specifically was used as a conduit for Russians to support Trump’s candidacy. There’s an interesting detail to that Torshin meeting, though, which hasn’t received much attention. On Thursday, a Russian woman named Maria Butina pleaded guilty in federal court to having engaged in a covert influence operation on behalf of Russia — an operation in which Torshin was involved. Part of Butina’s plea included a statement of offense, in which her criminal actions were stipulated.
Among them: “In May of 2016, Russian Official [Torshin] tasked Butina with writing him a note to explain why he should be permitted to travel to the United States to attend the annual Gun Rights Organization [NRA] meeting. She did as he directed, encouraging his attendance partly because of the opportunity to meet political candidates. Butina knew that Russian Official would share this note with his superiors at the Russian Central Bank and [Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs] to support a request that Russian Official be sent to the annual Gun Rights Organization meeting.”
Torshin, as we know, attended that meeting. That’s not the interesting part, though. The interesting part, in one sense, is that Butina wrote that letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Why? Because we know the MFA was already engaged with the campaign of President Trump by May 2016.
Full Article: What Putin knew on Election Day 2016 – The Washington Post.