(Correction: An earlier version of this article listed Simes’ trip in 2016. The trip actually occurred in February 2015.)
The interconnections between the National Rifle Association and the Trump/Russia investigation appear to be reaching a tipping point. While we’ve known for some time that the NRA may have been involved financially with many Russians, this past week we’ve learned that the 6 million-member association had close ties to an alleged Russian Spy by the name of Maria Butina.
As investigators and reporters continue to dig deeper into Butina’s past, even further ties between Russian interests and the NRA seem to be coming to light, especially when placing former NRA President David Keene under the microscope.
This morning, Reuters reported that Butina had met with senior level U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve officials back in 2015. According to Reuters, the meeting, attended by Butina, Stanley Fischer; who was the Fed vice chairman at the time, and Nathan Sheets; the Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, was just one of two meetings that the two US officials had with Russian interests. Both Fischer and Sheets later attended a meeting together with Alexander Torshin, the Russian Central Bank deputy governor at the time.
Both these meetings were arranged by a Washington think tank, the Center for the National Interest. What really makes things interesting is the fact that the Center for the National Interest is also the think tank who hosted candidate Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in April of 2016. This was the event in which Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner allegedly met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
So, who exactly is this think tank, and why are they involved with an alleged Russian spy as well as a meeting which has been under scrutiny by both the FBI and the Special Counsel in the Trump/Russia probe?
Digging deeper, one will find that the Center For The National Interest, had a CEO at the time, named Dimitri Simes. Simes traveled to Moscow and met face-to-face with Putin in February 2015. On the board of directors for this think tank, one will also find a man named David Keene. Keene was actually the president of the NRA between 2011 and 2013 and had close ties with Butina. In fact, he is the one who allegedly set up Butina with now National Security Adviser, John Bolton to create a pro-gun video for Butina’s Gun rights group.
As we learn more information about these individuals working for Russia, it will be those Americans who these individuals were closely connected to, who will certainly garner further scrutiny. Right now, many of those individuals appear to have ties to the NRA, the GOP and the Trump campaign.