The attitude adjustment among many conservative activists helps explain one of the most curious aspects of the 2016 presidential race: a softening among many conservatives of their historically hard-line views of Russia.
To the alarm of some in the GOP’s national security establishment, support in the party base f [Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin] The burgeoning alliance between Russians and U. conservatives was apparent in several events in late 2015, as the Republican nomination battle intensified.
But the apparent increase in contacts in recent years, as well as the participation of officials from the Russian government and the influential Russian Orthodox church, leads some analysts to conclude that the Russian government probably promoted the efforts in an attempt to expand Putin’s power. Preston said that in 2011 he introduced David Keene, then the NRA’s president, to a Russian senator, Alexander Torshin, a member of Putin’s party who later became a top official at the Russian central bank.
“Is it possible that these are just well-meaning people who are reaching out to Americans with shared interests? Hall, who retired from the CIA in 2015 after managing Russia operations for 30 years. Keene had been a stalwart on the right, a past chairman of the American Conservative Union who was the NRA’s president from 2011 to 2013.
Butina posted social-media photos showing how she and Torshin gained access to NRA officials and the U. Scott Walker (R), then a leading White House contender, at the NRA annual convention.
Torshin told Bloomberg last year that he had a friendly exchange with Trump at the 2015 convention and sat with his son Donald Jr. Walker’s spokesman said the encounter was brief, as speakers mingled with attendees before their remarks. In July, she showed up in Las Vegas at Freedom Fest, a meeting of libertarians where Trump and Sen.
Torshin seemed a natural ally to American conservatives. statistics to argue for gun ownership, at one point echoing in Russian an old NRA slogan: “Guns don’t shoot — people shoot.” Torshin was also a leader in a Russian movement to align government more closely with the Orthodox church.
On issues including gun rights, terrorism and same-sex marriage, many leading advocates on the right who grew frustrated with their country’s leftward tilt under President Barack Obama have forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally.
Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, has visited Moscow four times in four years, including a 2013 trip during which he testified before the Duma as Russia adopted a series of anti-gay laws.
“What I realized was that there was a great change happening in the former Soviet Union,” he said.
When Torshin and Butina attended the NRA’s 2014 annual convention, their profiles as scrappy Russians pushing for gun rights were rising.
Butina attended an NRA women’s luncheon as a guest of one of the organization’s past presidents.