Russian elites met with NRA in lead-up to 2016 election: report
Prominent Russians were in contact with the National Rifle Association (NRA) during the lead-up to the 2016 election, McClatchy reported.
The Russians who met with NRA representatives during the 2016 presidential campaign included members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle as well as the Russian Orthodox Church, according to the news outlet. Reportedly among the individuals identified are the former deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, Dmitry Rogozin, and Sergei Rudov, the leader of the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation — one of Russia’s largest philanthropies.
The report comes as the Justice Department continues its investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin tried to funnel money to the gun group to support President Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
McClatchy reported that the men dined with NRA representatives, mainly in Moscow, during the presidential campaign.
Rogozin, Rudov and Torshin can be seen meeting with leaders of the NRA in a photograph taken by the NRA during a 2015 trip to Russia, according to the article. An anonymous source with knowledge about the visit confirmed the meeting to McClatchy.
U.S. investigators are now looking into whether these meetings were part of a larger election-meddling operation, McClatchy reported.
The meetings took place as Russian hackers were interfering in the U.S. presidential election through social media and by hacking Democrats’ emails.
The NRA was Trump’s biggest financial backer in the 2016 election, spending more than $30 million to help his campaign.
The gun group disclosed in April that it had received contributions from 23 individuals with links to Russia since 2015.
These individuals gave just over $2,500 to the NRA, mostly in the form of “routine payments” like membership fees. The NRA noted that some of the payments may have come from Americans living in Russia.