How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

Acting as Torshin’s assistant and interpreter, Butina soon began forming her own connections to the NRA, becoming friendly with David Keene, a past chairman of the American Conservative Union who served as the NRA’s president from 2011 to 2013, as The Washington Post previously reported.

In 2013, Butina and Torshin invited Keene and other American gun enthusiasts to Moscow to attend the annual meeting of her organization.

There, Butina met Paul Erickson, a South Dakota-based Republican operative who was well known to Republican insiders, going back to the work he did as national political director for Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign in 1992. She told the Senate Intelligence Committee in April that she began a romantic relationship with the American operative, people familiar with her testimony said.