McClatchy News reported last month that the FBI is investigating Alexander Torshin, a Russian lawyer with connections to both Vladimir Putin and the NRA. The investigation allegedly seeks to determine whether any of the $55 million dollars spent by the NRA to help elect Republican officials (around $30 million on the Trump campaign alone) came from Russian donors. The use of foreign money to help fund a federal election is illegal.
While we do not yet know the amount of donations that Torshin, a life NRA member, made or brokered for the NRA, the organization spent double the amount on the 2016 elections than they spent on 2012 campaigns, donating triple what they donated to Mitt Romney to the Trump campaign. The true total may be as large as $70 million, since campaign groups are not required to disclose donations in certain operational facets, such as get-out-the-vote efforts.
The NRA threw their support emphatically behind Trump, endorsing him before he was the official nominee — a rare move for the organization. Trump, as recently as yesterday, has constantly regurgitated NRA talking points.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump alluded to potential gun violence against his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.
Torshin reportedly met with Trump at the NRA's May 2016 convention in Kentucky, where the group officially endorsed Trump, and sat with Donald Trump, Jr. at a dinner there. For three years, Spanish authorities also investigated Torshin for similar accusations of foreign money laundering. The Spanish investigation ended in 2013 with no charges brought, and Torshin claimed he'd done nothing wrong, saying, “I’m a public individual and I’m not hiding anywhere.”
But Twitter won't forget any time soon that the NRA is a player in the Russia investigation:
While we're talking about the $30 million Trump took from the @NRA - triple given to Romney - let's not forget reportedly part of the money came from Russia. Would be poetic justice if both the NRA and Trump got taken down for allowing foreign funds to influence our election.— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) February 22, 2018
Let me remind everyone that the NRA sent a delegation to meet with Putin allies in Russia before investing $30.3M into Trump. Then a NRA member invited Trump to the Kremlin on behalf of Putin before the election. Mueller’s likely investigating the NRA. Awesome. #BanAssaultWeapons— Scott Dworkin (@funder) February 22, 2018
The NRA's acceptance of Russian money will make them State sponsor terrorist group. What does that make the congressman and president who accepted donations from the NRA?— Jason Hannigan (@CaptinMoonlite) February 23, 2018
Trump: “The folks at the NRA are great people and great patriots.”— Ryan Knight #BanAssaultWeapons (@ProudResister) February 22, 2018
NRA is putting the sale of guns over the safety of children.
NRA is being investigated for funneling $30 million from Russia to Trump’s campaign.
NRA is not great or patriotic. It’s dangerous just like Trump.
Others tried to discredit the press and the entire investigation:
What the hell is it with you trolls & all the russia shot...if ya actually try & research instead of following your bosom buddies msm...you’d find that China is a much greater threat to the USA than Russia...just how ignorant can ya be— TWATTERISBIASED (@tiredofbs101) February 24, 2018
NRA attorney Steven Hart says the FBI has not contacted them, but many people are speculating about Mueller's smoking gun:
Nothing attracts Russian trolls like the gun control debate. So it's not surprising that even though Putin is not overly pro-gun in Russia, he saw the @NRA as a vessel to launder money into our election - NRA donated $30 million to Trump, triple that to Romney.— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) February 23, 2018
Here’s a tweet via Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister from December 2015. This is one of several times the NRA sent a delegation to Russia during 2016’s election cycle. Fake Sheriff Clarke & the NRA’s President are seated at the table in the pic below. #BoycottNRA #BanAssaultWeapons https://t.co/tNxKQPU3fY— Scott Dworkin (@funder) February 23, 2018