FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.
It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.
If true, the notion of Torshin passing money through the NRA is not out of character:
Torshin, a leading figure in Putin’s party, has been implicated in money laundering by judicial authorities in Spain, as Bloomberg News first revealed in 2016. Spanish investigators alleged in an almost 500-page internal report that Torshin, who was then a senator, capitalized on his government role to assist mobsters laundering funds through Spanish properties and banks, Bloomberg reported.
Torshin's connection with the NRA likely began well before the 2016 election, as he attended its Houston convention in 2013 and struck up a relationship with former NRA president David Keene:
Keene also helped lead a high-level NRA delegation to Moscow in December 2015 for a week of lavish meals and meetings with Russian business and political leaders. The week’s festivities included a visit to a Russian gun company and a meeting with a senior Kremlin official and wealthy Russians, according to a member of the delegation, Arnold Goldschlager, a California doctor who has been active in NRA programs to raise large donations.
By election time, Torshin had cozied up to numerous conservative and campaign operatives, including Donald Trump, Jr., Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Paul Erickson, and NRA fundraiser Arnold Goldschlager. He also found himself invited to big name events:
Last February when Torshin visited Washington, Rockefeller heir and conservative patron George O’Neill Jr. hosted a fancy four-hour dinner for the banker on Capitol Hill, an event that drew Rohrabacher, Erickson and other big names on the right. Rohrabacher has labeled Torshin as “conservatives’ favorite Russian,” Torshin was in Washington at the time to lead his country’s delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast, where Trump spoke.
According to McClatchey, Torshin also was slated to meet President Donald Trump, but his meeting was canceled after White House officials were made aware of his mob connections.