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Viral NRA ad sparks controversy Washington CNN The National Rifle Association is setting aside years of documents related to its interactions with a Kremlin-linked banker, as the gun-rights group appears to be bracing for a possible investigation, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The NRA has faced fresh scrutiny from congressional investigators about its finances and ties to Alexander Torshin, one of the 17 prominent Russian government officials the US Treasury Department recently slapped with sanctions.

The gun-rights group has said it is reexamining its relationship with Torshin, who is a lifetime NRA member, in the wake of the sanctions. The Russia sanctions list: Who's on the new US blacklist Those inquiries could shed light on the tightly held fundraising practices and political activities of the NRA.

The NRA recently found itself facing allegations that the FBI was investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money through the group to bolster Trump, according to a McClatchy report. Read More Despite the public denials, officials at the gun-rights group have been anxiously preparing as if they were already under investigation, sources said.

Some employees have been tasked with preserving years of documents mentioning Torshin or his associate, Maria Butina, who runs a pro-guns group in Russia, a source familiar with the situation said. Privately, some officials have expressed anxiety about a potential investigation and the group's Russian ties.

FBI investigating potential Russian donations to NRA to boost Trump The NRA's precautions could be little more than due diligence as the group faces inquiries from congressional investigators and the media about its relationship with Torshin.

But the feeling among some officials internally is that the group appears to be readying for an investigation. NRA inroads Torshin, the deputy head of Russia's central bank who served for years as a senator in the Russian parliament, began making inroads into the NRA with the help of Tennessee lawyer G.

In other media interviews, Preston said that call took place around When Donald Trump Jr.

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Torshin and Butina weren't invited to the dinner, but they were asked to stay and speak anyway. That is the extent of their communication or contact.

Throughout the campaign, a number of people made overtures to Trump campaign aides on Torshin's behalf. Those emissaries sometimes touted their NRA connections as they aimed to helped Torshin quietly facilitate a relationship between then-presidential candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In one such email, a conservative activist reached out on Torshin's behalf to say his goal was "cultivating a back-channel to President Putin's Kremlin.

Trump," according to the House Intelligence Committee reports. The outreach efforts reached Trump son-in-law Jared Kushnercampaign manager Paul Manafort, his deputy Rick Gates, then-campaign adviser Rick Dearborn and Jeff Sessions, then a foreign policy adviser and now the attorney general, according to emails reviewed by the House Intelligence Committee.

In at least some of the cases their overtures were rebuffed. Torshin was unable to schedule a meeting with candidate Trump at the NRA meeting, but ultimately managed to meet Trump Jr.

In an interview with Bloomberg News nearly a year after the event, Torshin touted his dinner with Trump Jr. It's unclear whether the outreach to Trump aides attracted the attention of special counsel Robert Mueller.

But he and his team have been delving into the possibility that Russians may have injected foreign money into the race to influence the election.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the Trump campaign declined to comment. Worries about a Russian influence operation The skepticism among some NRA officials about the pair of gun-loving Russians may have been well-founded.

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Torshin's years-long involvement with the NRA had all the hallmarks of a Russian influence operation, Russia experts said. Russian operatives often look to build relationships with polarizing groups -- on either end of the political spectrum -- to breed division and advance the Russian agenda.

But given Torshin's stature -- a former Russian senator and now a deputy head at the Russian central bank -- that is exceedingly unlikely, experts said. Torshin did not respond to requests for comment.

Prolific on Twitter, he has tweeted that the report of an FBI investigation was little more than a rumor.

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Preston, the Tennessee lawyer, said Torshin was similarly dismissive of those reports when the two men saw one another on Preston's recent trip to Moscow.

Keene, now an NRA board member, said there was a small birthday dinner for him that evening, which Torshin and Butina attended.

It happened to take place at the same restaurant as the NRA gathering, he said, and someone brought Trump Jr. Keene played a central role in fostering the relationship between Torshin and the NRA. Big Russian delegation anticipated for prayer breakfast in Washington The group went sightseeing, toured a Russian gun manufacturer and met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin -- one of the first Russians the Obama administration slapped with sanctions after Russia annexed Crimea.

One of the members of the tour group, former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, rose to become a prominent Trump surrogate during the campaign. Butina shared a photo of the group of Facebook, which described the excursion as an official visit from an NRA delegation.

That's exactly what the NRA's leadership was hoping to avoid.

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