Depth of Russian politician's cultivation of NRA ties revealed

A prominent Kremlin-linked Russian politician has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association, and documented efforts in real time over six years to leverage those connections and gain access deeper into American politics, NPR has learned…

Torshin’s use of NRA connections to open doors, and his 2015 claim to know Trump through the organization, raise new questions about the group’s connections with Russian officials — at a time when the organization is being roundly criticized by its opponents, and at times the president himself, for opposition to gun control.

The president has also defended the group in recent days as the gun debate has reemerged in the wake of a Florida school shooting, including a tweet calling the group’s leaders “Great American Patriots.”