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Dem senators probe financial links between Butina, NRA

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Three Senate Democrats on Monday requested documents from the Treasury Department related to financial ties between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and an alleged agent of the Russian government.

Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) requested copies of all documents that outline Maria Butina’s connections to the NRA in a Monday letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

{mosads}Butina, a Russian national and gun-rights activist, was arrested and charged last week with secretly acting to advance the Kremlin’s interests through cultivating connections with powerful groups and individuals close to the Republican Party.

Butina is also a former assistant to Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee say potentially funneled Russian money into President Trump’s 2016 campaign through the NRA.

In their letter, Wyden, Menendez and Whitehouse cite charges from U.S. prosecutors that Butina “engaged in a years-long conspiracy to work covertly in the United States as an undeclared agent of the Russian Federation in order to advance the interest of her home country.”

The senators asked Mnuchin for all records relevant to financial connections between the NRA and Butina, including groups affiliated with the NRA, a pro-gun rights groups Butina opened and a shell corporation Butina created with political operative Paul Erickson.

The Democrats also renewed a previous request from Wyden for similar records regarding the NRA and Torshin, who was sanctioned by the Treasury Department for his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Justice Department said Butina “worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank.”

Wyden, Menendez and Whitehouse say the unnamed official “clearly matches the description of Mr. Torshin.”

Butina is latest figure to emerge in sprawling investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, including possible connections to Trump and his campaign. Butina was arrested three days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

Tags Bob Menendez Donald Trump Robert Mueller Ron Wyden Sheldon Whitehouse Steven Mnuchin

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