While attending an NRA event last year, Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected banker who’s allegedly tied to organized crime groups in Europe, his lawyer confirmed Monday.
Reports surfaced last week that Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian central bank, tried to pitch a meeting last May between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Torshin’s request circulated among Trump campaign officials and eventually reached President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who declined the request.
But that didn’t stop Torshin from meeting the President’s son at an NRA event in Kentucky a few weeks later.
A source familiar with the interaction told CBS News that Trump Jr. and Torshin were introduced via a third party at the sidelines of a two-day NRA convention in Louisville. The two apparently chatted for about three minutes, mainly focusing on their mutual interest in firearms, the source said.
Trump Jr.’s attorney further downplayed the significance of the meeting.
“Donald J. Trump Jr. was attending an NRA convention and having dinner when an acquaintance asked him to say hello to Torshin and made an introduction,” Alan Futerfas said in a statement to the Daily News. “They made small talk for a few minutes and went back to their separate meals. That is the extent of their communication or contact.”
Nonetheless, the meeting raises a number of questions.
Torshin, a vociferous Putin ally, has been accused by Spanish police of being a mafia “godfather.” His name came up last week after the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed that Kushner had failed to hand over documents about the meeting Torshin pitched to the campaign, which was described as a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite.”
The NRA meeting also took place just three weeks before Trump Jr. and a number of other campaign officials hosted a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer after they’d been promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. That meeting is now a focus of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s expanding investigation into Russian election meddling.