Several Democrats are raising concerns about connections between NRA officials and Russians with ties to the Kremlin, with Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.) telling McClatchy DC that it seems like "something very bad happened in 2016." The questions arise as federal investigators are looking into whether the NRA received illegal donations from Russians to support the Trump campaign.
"Now U.S. investigators want to know if relationships between the Russian leaders and the nation's largest gun rights group went beyond vodka toasts and gun factory tours, evolving into another facet of the Kremlin's broad election-interference operation," McClatchy DC writes. Among the Russians who were in contact with NRA officials was Alexander Torshin, who allegedly helped launder money for the Russian mob in Spain, and Dmitry Rogozin, a far-right nationalist. "I can't understand the NRA meeting with Rogozin since he was sanctioned in 2014," said Russia expert Anders Aslund. "It's so embarrassing."
NRA officials also were in touch with Sergei Rudov, the head of the religious charity St. Basil's the Great Charitable Foundation, which has allegedly been used to finance causes like the separatist movement in Crimea.
Lieu claims it is fishy that the NRA was meeting with the Russians in the first place because "they don't actually have a similar interest in making sure that people bear arms" — Russia has much stricter gun laws than the United States. Read more about the ties between the NRA and Russian agents at McClatchy DC. Jeva Lange