Torshin, who according to Bloomberg News has been accused by Spanish investigators of directing a money-laundering operation for a Moscow syndicate (he has denied any wrongdoing), boasted of meeting the President's son Donald Trump Jr.
At the Bistro Bis dinner, the room was set in traditional Russian style, with the guests on one side of a long table and the Americans on the other.One of their hosts was Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who was sanctioned by the White House in 2014 in connection with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.According to a disclosure filed by Clarke, Butina's group shelled out ,000 for the sheriff's meals, lodging, transportation and other excursions on the trip.In April 2015, Butina and Torshin traveled to Tennessee to attend a fundraiser for a political group backing the presidential campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, then viewed as a leading contender for the GOP nomination.In July, she attended Walker's campaign kickoff in Wisconsin.(The group did not respond to a request to comment for this story.) "I am deeply grateful for the friendship of the American NRA," Butina, now a graduate student in international relations at American University in Washington, wrote in an email to TIME."My work has been focused exclusively on the expansion of gun rights--very publicly."But Butina's attraction to the Republican Party runs broader than common ground on gun rights.That encounter "should have set off alarm bells," said one former White House official."It is a big deal."Last month Torshin assembled the delegation of Russians who attended the National Prayer Breakfast.As the murky ties between Moscow and members of Donald Trump's campaign consumed the city outside, the group dining inside the George Hotel explored ways to strengthen the bonds between the two countries."We have so many people who are trying to destroy the relationship between Russia and the United States," says Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, who attended the dinner and has visited Russia at least a half-dozen times over the past five years.