The FBI has obtained wiretaps from Spanish authorities of conversations involving an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who met with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., during the 2016 US presidential election, Yahoo News reported.
Alexander Torshin is a prominent Russian banker, politician, and gun-rights activist who is closely tied to the National Rifle Association. He has long been on the Spanish government’s radar for his suspected involvement in money laundering and organized crime, and media reports earlier this year indicated that the FBI was investigating whether Torshin used the NRA as a vehicle to funnel Russian money into the election to boost Trump.
José Grinda, who has led investigations by the Spanish government into organized crime in the country, said this week that that the FBI had in recent months requested and received transcripts of wiretapped conversations between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a former Russian banker with connections to the mob who has been convicted of money laundering.
Grinda said Spanish authorities had turned over the transcripts featuring Torshin to the FBI “a few months ago,” and that Romanov referred to Torshin on the tapes as “El Padrino,” or the godfather.
Torshin and his longtime assistant, fellow Russian gun-rights activist Maria Butina, have attracted scrutiny over their attempts to set up backdoor meetings with senior members of the Trump campaign during the election.
In particular, Butina has cultivated her own ties with the American gun-rights activist and Republican strategist Paul Erickson, whom she has been acquainted with since at least 2013.
Erickson came under scrutiny last year, when The New York Times reported that he emailed Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn in May 2016, with the subject line “Kremlin Connection,” telling him that he could arrange a backdoor meeting between Trump and Putin.
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SOURCE: Business Insider, Sonam Sheth