Prominent Russians, including members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and top members of the Russian Orthodox Church, met with National Rifle Association (NRA) representatives during the 2016 election, as Russia was interfering in the election, McClatchy reported.
Among the Russians who met with the NRA, McClatchy identified the former deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, Dmitry Rogozin, and Sergei Rudov, the leader of the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation — one of Russia’s largest philanthropies.
The NRA, Trump’s biggest financial backer, shelled out more than $30 million to boost his candidacy. The gun group disclosed in April that it had received contributions from 23 individuals with links to Russia since 2015.
The Hill adds:
The report comes as the Justice Department continues its investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin tried to funnel money to the gun group to support President Trump during the 2016 presidential election. McClatchy reported that the men dined with NRA representatives, mainly in Moscow, during the presidential campaign.
Rogozin, Rudov and Torshin can be seen meeting with leaders of the NRA in a photograph taken by the NRA during a 2015 trip to Russia, according to the article. An anonymous source with knowledge about the visit confirmed the meeting to McClatchy.
U.S. investigators are now looking into whether these meetings were part of a larger election-meddling operation, McClatchy reported.
McClatchy reports that the meetings took place as Russian hackers were actively interfering in the U.S. presidential election through social media and by hacking Democrats’ emails.