An 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee has found that the National Rifle Association acted as a “foreign asset” in the months leading up the to 2016 presidential election. According to the report, the NRA promised Russian nationals access to U.S. officials in exchange for the rival nation’s business.
The report was unveiled by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who believes these revelations could have “legal implications” for the NRA. Well, yeah, we sure hope it does.
“After returning from Moscow, the NRA gave the Russians free rein over the guest list for its 2016 Annual Meeting,” Wyden tweeted this morning. “It also provided access to other political organizations in 2015 and 2016 like the National Prayer Breakfast and the secretive right-wing Council for National Policy.”
If the NRA acted a ‘foreign asset’ to Russia, why should it be allowed to stay in business? https://t.co/fxMWrpRSzT— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) September 27, 2019
In one email found by this Senate probe, Butina wrote that “a purpose of the 2015 Moscow trip was that ‘many powerful figures in the Kremlin are counting on Torshin to prove his American connections’ by showing he could bring prominent NRA officials to Russia,” according to NPR.
She even said that she might be able to set up a meeting between NRA officials and Vladimir Putin.
There are many damning revelations outlined in Senator Wyden’s extensive Twitter thread on the report.
NEWS: For more than a year my @SenateFinance staff has been investigating the NRA’s relationship with foreign agent Maria Butina and Russian government official Alexander Torshin and their role in the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) September 27, 2019
Here’s what they found.
“NRA officers’ apparent use of the NRA for personal gain fits a larger pattern of reported self-dealing and raises serious questions about whether the NRA broke U.S. tax laws,” Wyden concludes.
The NRA currently holds tax-exempt status, but in order to maintain that, they have to refrain from “using funds for the personal benefit of its officials or for actions significantly outside their stated missions.”
Senate report on NRA :
1. Butina/Torshin were explicit about Kremlin ties
2. NRA facilitated their networking with US groups
3. NRA helped organize 2015 Moscow trip
4. Members were motivated to attend 2015 NRA Moscow trip by personal commercial dealingshttps://t.co/ADMTA3lXFE
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) September 27, 2019
Connecting Russian officials to Republican leaders certainly seems outside the stated mission of the NRA. The report also found multiple instances in which the NRA lied about the extent of their dealings with Russian officials. The organization has claimed that their 2015 trip to Moscow was not an “official” excursion. The report found that to be a lie.
NRA leaders were told the trip was needed to prove Torshin’s American connections to the Kremlin, and that building relationships with Russians was “NRA business.” pic.twitter.com/OAn4rOvZOz
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) September 27, 2019
All of this occurred in 2015 and 2016, leading up to the 2016 election and its surprising results.
Wyden is now calling on the IRS to launch their own investigation into the NRA to determine if the organization violated tax laws.