Don’t Look Now, But Here’s Proof of Collusion with Russia
NPR reported Friday morning that a prominent Russian politician with deep links to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin had spent much of the last decade methodically developing personal relationships with leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Alexander Torshin has documented his efforts (and successes) on social media over the years, often using those contacts and photographs as leverage to burrow even deeper into American politics. Whether willing accomplices or if they merely got duped like the FBI feared would happen to Jared Kushner, there can be no doubt any longer that the NRA colluded with Russia and helped them undermine our electoral system.
how did Russian operative alexander Torshin infiltrate the NRA?
Like President Trump, Torshin’s favorite outlet is Twitter. Trump’s 37,000 tweets, however, pale in comparison to Torshin’s 150,000. Like Trump, Torshin loves to brag about himself and his connections. The problem is, Torshin tweets nearly 60 times per day (often in Russian), so much of his bragging about his carefully cultivated NRA connections slipped-by unnoticed until NPR took the time to translate them. What made NPR invest the time and effort?
In January, news broke that the NRA possibly worked with the Trump presidential campaign to launder dirty Russian money. The Russian point-man alleged to have arranged the transactions, who also happens to be deputy governor of Russia’s central bank? Alexander Torshin. In early February, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to the NRA asking the organization to disclose any financial dealings they had with Torshin. The letter also requested the NRA detail how they keep foreign donations separate from domestic, so they do not violate federal election law. You can read a copy of Wyden’s letter here. The NRA replied promptly that it is Torshin under investigation by the FBI, not the NRA, so they will not involve themselves or answer questions beyond affirming the organization complies with all applicable election laws. You can find a copy of that response here.
It is the tweets Torshin made about Donald Trump that are getting the most attention. The tweet below from November 2015 translates roughly as:
“Comic Larry David interrupted U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump on the airwaves show on NBC shouting “Trump – you’re a racist!”
The first part of that response from Torshin translates roughly as:
“Comedian and must laugh people! Correct? That’s what he’s trying to do!
But it is the second part that is a bombshell:
“I know D. Trump (by NRA). A decent man.”
“I know Donald Trump.” This was from 2015, months before the first primary. Did he tweet a lie then (in Russian) hoping that years later it might be translated and somehow help him? Of course not. And how did he know Donald Trump? “By NRA.” To use a phrase the NRA certainly appreciates, that is a smoking gun!
Комик Ларри Дэвид прервал кандидата в президенты США Дональда Трампа в эфире шоу на NBC выкриком "Трамп –ты расист!" https://t.co/ZsB26VqPyq
— Алексей Венедиктов (@aavst) November 8, 2015
Torshin subsequently responded to someone else’s tweet of a picture of the future President and First Lady with reality star Kate Gosselin. The original comment translates roughly as:
“How do you like Trump as the new US president? It’s definitely going to be better than Hillary. And not a Homo, judging by everything. “
“D. Trump is a proponent of traditional family values. Member of NRA. Saw him in Nashville (April S.G.).”
(April S.G.) would be April 2015, when Trump spoke at the NRA convention in Nashville. You can watch a video of that speech here.
Как вам Трамп в качестве нового президента США? Уж точно будет лучше, чем Хиллари. И не гомик, судя по всему pic.twitter.com/oq9t3l9cM1
— Игорь Коротченко (@i_korotchenko) August 23, 2015
Torshin also met with Donald Trump, Jr., this meeting taking place at the 2016 NRA convention. Torshin attempted to meet with candidate Trump at the 2016 convention but was unable to do so. Paul Erickson, an activist with ties to Torshin, sent word they were,
“…quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S and would try to use the NRA convention to make first contact. Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump. He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election.”
Torshin has documented meetings with former NRA presidents Jim Porter, Allan Cors, and David Keene as well as current NRA president Pete Brownell. He claims to have attended the NRA’s annual convention 12 times.
When asked for comment on the Torshin matter by Bloomberg News, Donald Trump Jr. recalled meeting a Russian that night at the 2016 NRA convention but doesn’t recall if it was Torshin. President Trump was asked about the claim Torshin had known him five years and had what the Russian described as a “jovial conversation” at the organization’s 2015 convention. The White House replied that President Trump “has a very different view, saying that Trump never had a meeting with Torshin and that no one recalls them having any encounter at all.”
Both responses sound like classic politician-speak. No one asked about a meeting; they asked about a conversation. And how is it that people who run corporations or countries seem to have almost no ability to remember anything?
The controversy surrounding Russia and the NRA was seemingly ignored by President Trump who had dinner with the organization’s leadership Thursday night and proudly tweeted about it afterward.
Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018
Featured image photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.