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The plan, they say, was to try to influence the Republican Party to be friendlier to Russia, by way of the NRA.But Butina didn’t inform the US government she was acting as a foreign agent on American soil, which would be illegal.Then in May 2016, Erickson sent an email to Trump campaign (and Jeff Sessions) staffer Rick Dearborn, with the subject: “Kremlin connection”.He wrote: “Happenstance and the (sometimes) international reach of the NRA placed me in a position a couple of years ago to slowly begin cultivating a back-channel to President Putin’s Kremlin.” “The Kremlin believes that the only possibility of a true reset in this relationship would be with a new Republican White House,” Erickson continued.with Torshin at an NRA dinner, and reportedly bragged that she helped the Trump campaign communicate with Russia. Torshin is also a longtime gun enthusiast and supporter of gun rights — but some have alleged that he has more unsavory connections, too.Meanwhile, her boss, Torshin, has reportedly been linked to money laundering by Spanish authorities. A report by Spanish investigators reportedly links Torshin to a Russian organized crime syndicate, the Taganskaya, and claims he’s involved in money laundering.It was around March 2016, though, that references about a communication channel between the Russian government and the GOP began to pop up.(The first round of primaries had already happened and Trump was the clear favorite to win the nomination at this point.) That month, Butina emailed an American person that “Putin’s side” had given them a “yes.” She wrote that a “representative of the Russian Presidential administration” had given approval for “building this communication channel,” according to the FBI agent’s affidavit.
Now, the government alleges that Butina was carrying out a plan to influence American politics on behalf of a Russian government official (Torshin).
The email itself had the subject line “The Second Pozner.” An FBI agent’s affidavit suggests that refers to “Vladimir Pozner, a propagandist who served in the disinformation department of the Soviet KGB and who often appeared on Western television.” The project proposal makes several assertions: Erickson soon wrote back to her with advice on her “special project,” including a list of potential media, business, and political contacts whom she should meet with “off the record.” “If you were to sit down with your special friends and make a list of ALL the most important contacts you could find in America for a time when the political situation between the U. and Russia will change, you could NOT do better than the list that I just emailed you,” Erickson wrote.
“All that is needed is for your friends to provide you with the financial resources to spend the time in America to TAKE ALL OF THESE MEETINGS.” So what we appear to have here is a plan to influence the Republican Party to be friendlier to Russia, based on the perceptive (and accurate) insight that the Republican Party is extremely beholden to the NRA.
But despite the new indictment (which is not part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe), the full extent of what happened here remains mysterious.
It’s long been known that Butina and Russian central bank official Alexander Torshin have spent years cozying up to the NRA.