President Donald Trump had been set to meet a Russian bank executive before the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year until his aides realized that the banker allegedly had ties to organized crime, Yahoo News reported Sunday.
Trump was slated to meet with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia and an ally of Vladimir Putin, at a Washington, D.C. hotel in February, per Yahoo News. Torshin was part of Russia’s delegation headed to the National Prayer Breakfast.
However, an unnamed national security aide at the White House who reviewed a guest list flagged Torshin as being someone with “baggage,” according to the report. Investigators in Spain allege that Torshin helped members of a Russian crime syndicate launder money through Spanish banks and properties. Torshin has denied those allegations.
Yahoo News also reported that an unnamed former campaign adviser informed the Trump administration that a meeting with Torshin could stoke the controversy over Trump associates’ ties to Russia.
An aide to Torshin confirmed to Yahoo News that a planned meet-and-greet was canceled the night before the National Prayer Breakfast.
“There were no specific questions or statements that Mr. Torshin had in mind during what we assumed to be a five-second handshake. We all hope for better relations between our two countries. I’m sure there will be other opportunities to express this hope,” Torshin’s assistant Maria Butina said in a statement to Yahoo News.
As the report noted, Torshin is also member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and has attended the organization’s events in the United States. Torshin met Donald Trump, Jr. at an NRA event in 2016, according to Yahoo News.