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Timeline of Suspected Russian Plot to Infiltrate NRA, GOP

Maria Butina is suspected of being a foreign agent, seeking to infiltrate the GOP and NRA in order to build relationships with the American right

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    Timeline of Suspected Russian Plot to Infiltrate NRA, GOP
    AP Photo, File
    In this photo taken on Sunday, April 21, 2013, Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia. Butina, a 29-year-old gun-rights activist, served as a covert Russian agent while living in Washington, gathering intelligence on American officials and political organizations and working to establish back-channel lines of communications for the Kremlin, federal prosecutors charged Monday, July 16, 2018.

    As Siberian gun rights activist Maria Butina faces a hearing in Washington, here is a look at the unusual path that led to her arrest.

    She's accused of working as an undeclared foreign agent, based on FBI suspicions that she and patron Alexander Torshin sought to infiltrate the NRA and build a long-term influence campaign with the American right. She has pleaded not guilty.

    2001

    Torshin is elected to serve in Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council. He makes his first contact with the NRA.

    White House Insists Trump ‘Did Nothing Wrong’

    [NATL] White House Insists Trump ‘Did Nothing Wrong’

    In response to multiple questions about former campaign adviser Paul Manafort’s conviction and former fixer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeated that the president “did nothing wrong.”

    (Published Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018)

    2011

    Butina moves to Moscow, funded by an oligarch couple, and forms gun rights group Right to Bear Arms. Torshin and Butina meet at Moscow gun rally.

    2012

    Torshin presents draft bill on liberalizing gun sales, crafted in part by Butina. It fails miserably, lacking support from President Vladimir Putin.

    Torshin attends NRA convention in St. Louis, and goes to Nashville to observe the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

    2013

    Congressional Focus Turns to Budget Deadline

    [NATL] Congressional Focus Turns to Budget Deadline

    Congress gets back to work Tuesday with a hard deadline: Pass a budget by Dec. 7, or shut down the government.

    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018)

    Torshin attends NRA convention in Houston in May. Three months later, Spanish police try and fail to arrest Torshin for alleged connections to organized crime; Torshin denies wrongdoing.

    In October, an NRA delegation including then-chief David Keene visits Russia for a conference organized by Butina's group Right to Bear Arms. Butina meets Torshin's NRA contacts.

    2014

    Butina goes to the U.S. for the first time, and she and Torshin attend an NRA convention in Indianapolis. She resigns as leader of Right to Bear Arms.

    2015

    Torshin leaves parliament to become deputy governor of Russia's Central Bank; Butina becomes his assistant.

    Vote Counts Continue One Week After Election

    [NATL] Vote Counts Continue One Week After Election

    It's still a fight to the finish in Florida a week after Election Day, with razor-thin margins forcing a recount in both the Senate and Governor's races. Meanwhile, Georgia is facing its own elections problem as gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams fight for a recount.

     

    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018)

    Butina and Torshin attend an NRA convention in Nashville; Torshin says he met Donald Trump there. Butina questions Trump at Freedomfest gun show in Las Vegas.

    NRA delegation visits Moscow on Butina's invitation, meets Torshin, oligarchs, top officials.

    2016

    Butina and Torshin attend National Prayer Breakfast, and Torshin attends NRA convention in Louisville where he says he met Donald Trump Jr.

    Butina starts masters program at AU. She and Torshin exchange messages about contacts with Russian intelligence, and a "back channel" to U.S. right wing, according to the FBI.

    2017

    'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Trump Lie About ‘Voter Fraud’

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Trump Lie About ‘Voter Fraud’

    Seth Meyers takes a closer look President Donald Trump becoming more lawless amid a power grab at the Justice Department and a recount in Florida.

    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018)

    Butina, in Washington, joins celebrations of Trump's inauguration. She and Torshin attend National Prayer Breakfast.

    2018

    Senate questions Butina in April, and her apartment is searched by FBI. Torshin is hit with US sanctions. Butina is arrested July 15.