Mother Jones pulls together of NRA’s participation with outside influencers and donors, namely Russia. Here is a great timeline of their participation.
For decades, the National Rifle Association has promoted its hardline politics with appeals to patriotism, freedom, and the staunch defense of the Second Amendment. But now, the controversial gun lobbying group finds itself deeply caught up in a wide-ranging effort to sabotage American democracy by an enemy foreign power.
Targeting the 2016 election
When the NRA annual convention kicked off in May 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky, Torshin met Donald Trump Jr. during a private dinner the night before his father gave a much anticipated speech. (“The only way to save our Second Amendment,” his father told the crowd the next day, “is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump.”) A lawyer for Don Jr. later said the exchange between his client and Torshin at the dinner “was all gun-related small talk.” The Washington Post reported this week that Butina also met Don Jr. briefly at the convention.
Butina and Torshin are both “lifetime members” of the NRA, according to Torshin, who posed for photos in Louisville armed with a large rifle, an NRA “Ring of Freedom” donor ID badge hanging around his neck.
That same month, as the New York Times previously reported, Erickson emailed a high-level Trump campaign official with the message that “Russia is quietly but actively seeking a dialogue.” He noted that the “international reach of the NRA placed me in a position a couple of years ago to slowly begin cultivating a back-channel to President Putin’s Kremlin.”
Three months earlier, Erickson and Butina had formed Bridges LLC; Erickson later told McClatchy that they created the South Dakota-based company for Butina to get financial assistance for her graduate studies—“an unusual way to use a LLC,” as McClatchy dryly noted.
After Trump won the presidential election, according to the court documents made public this week, Butina contacted Torshin. “I am ready for further orders,” she told him.
A lawyer for Butina has denied the federal charges, calling them “overblown.” Butina appeared at a hearing in federal court on Wednesday in Washington, where her lawyer said she had cooperated with an FEC inquiry in March regarding contributions to a political committee (no further details of which were specified at the hearing). The latest court filing from prosecutors on Wednesday alleged that Butina offered sex to another American, whose identity is unknown, in “exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”