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Secret U.S. Intelligence Report Says Russia’s NRA Operation Approved By Putin’s Inner Circle; Torshin received Kremlin’s blessing for influence campaign conducted through Russian agent Maria Butina and GOP operative Paul Erickson

Betsy Woodruff at the Daily Beast has obtained access to a U.S. intelligence report that confirms the outreach from Alexander Torshin to the National Rifle Association was sanctioned by Putin’s inner circle.

[Kremlin Blessed Russia’s NRA Operation, U.S. Intel Report Says](

>The Kremlin has long denied that it had anything to do with the infiltration of the National Rifle Association and the broader American conservative movement. A U.S. intelligence report reviewed by The Daily Beast tells a different story.

>Alexander Torshin, the Russian central bank official who spent years aggressively courting NRA leaders, **briefed the Kremlin on his efforts and recommended they participate**, according to the report. Its existence and contents have not previously been reported.

>While there has been speculation that Torshin and his protegée, Maria Butina, had the Kremlin’s blessing to woo the NRA—and federal prosecutors have vaguely asserted that she acted “on behalf of the Russian federation”—no one in the White House or the U.S. intelligence community has publicly stated as much. Senior Russian government officials, for their part, have strenuously distanced themselves from Butina’s courtship of the NRA, which she did at Torshin’s direction.

>The report, on the other hand, notes that **the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was fine with Torshin’s courtship of the NRA because the relationships would be valuable if a Republican won the White House in 2016.**

>The report, published last year, is **based on conversations that happened in 2015, before NRA leaders visited Moscow on a trip arranged by Torshin and Butina.** The document does not specifically name the NRA or the Republican Party, but its context makes clear it is discussing those two American organizations. (American intelligence reports generally do not name U.S. persons or organizations for privacy and legal reasons.)

>According to the report, **Torshin suggested that Russian officials use the NRA to reach out to politically active Americans**. Torshin, then a deputy governor at Russia’s central bank, noted the gun-rights group’s influence in U.S. politics. **He told the Kremlin about his contacts in the NRA, including conversations and meetings in the United States, and suggested that Kremlin officials scrutinize how some people affiliated with the group viewed relations between the U.S. and Russia.**

>The report notes that **Russian officials discussed having their embassy in Washington participate in the work of courting the NRA.** Kremlin officials also discussed preparations for NRA members’ upcoming trip to Moscow. Torshin recommended that someone from President Vladimir Putin’s executive office, meaning the group of people who support his day-to-day activities, meet with the group.

>One veteran CIA officer noted that references to the Kremlin in intelligence reports have a more specific meaning than in general parlance, where Americans sometimes use the phrase as a metonym for the entire Russian government.

>“In U.S. intelligence reports like this one, **the phrase ‘the Kremlin’ generally refers to Vladimir Putin and his small inner circle, which would include key power ministers, including the heads of the intelligence services (SVR, FSB, GRU), the foreign minister, and oligarch cronies**,” said a 30-year veteran of the CIA with deep knowledge of the Russian intelligence services who spoke anonymously due to the sensitivity around issues related to Russia. “In this case, Kremlin decision-making would have likely been a smaller, even more limited, group.”

**Prior Keep_Track Threads:**

* [Russian Operative Maria Butina Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Against the United States; status hearing set for February 12th](

* [Russian Operative Maria Butina Will Plead Guilty, admit that she and GOP operative Paul Erickson “agreed and conspired” with Putin ally Alexander Torshin “to act in the United States under the direction of [Torshin]”](

* [Investigation Uncovers Illegal Campaign Coordination Between Trump and the NRA](

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2 thoughts on “Secret U.S. Intelligence Report Says Russia’s NRA Operation Approved By Putin’s Inner Circle; Torshin received Kremlin’s blessing for influence campaign conducted through Russian agent Maria Butina and GOP operative Paul Erickson

  1. This is the nightmare that the right has been denying for the last two years. The NRA should have stayed in their lane.

    There is no acceptable level of plausible deniability for the president. This is well beyond impeachable. They conspired with the Russians to influence an American presidential election.

    This is the party of Lincoln. This is life in 2019. This is the fight for America’s soul.

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