On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released thousands of pages of documents relating to their inquiry into the 2016 meeting that Donald Trump Jr., along with other Trump associates, had with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. An individual working for a prominent Russian family allied with the Trumps had promised the now president’s son that Veselnitskaya would bring Russian government sourced dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The documents released by the Judiciary Committee include the transcripts of interviews with individuals including Donald Trump Jr. himself, who initially participated in the scheme to keep the fact that he’d gone into that meeting looking for Russian dirt on Clinton private.
Highlighting the many questions remaining to be answered, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee released their own summary of findings. In that document, they chose to include an explicit condemnation of the National Rifle Association, asserting that evidence points to the prominent organization as having acted as an intermediary between the Trump team and Russia during the 2016 campaign season. In the time since the election, the president and his allies have remained close to the group; Trump just recently spoke at their annual convention in Dallas.
There are some details about the NRA’s Russia ties already known. For instance, it has in the past been reported that Alexander Torshin used his connections to the organization to try and get a meeting set up between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2016.
Summarizing their findings about the NRA’s activities, Judiciary Democrats wrote in their report as follows:
‘The Committee has obtained a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign… The Kremlin may have also used the NRA to secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign.’
— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) May 16, 2018
The NRA, during the 2016 election season, spent tens of millions of dollars supporting the Trump campaign, and it’s previously been reported that both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission are interested in possible NRA financial ties to Russia.
At least the FBI inquiry has focused, according to a report out earlier this year, on the question of whether Torshin personally funneled money through the NRA to Trump.
Senate Democrats said in their new report that requests for information have been sent out to a few key players in the ordeal who have so far refused to cooperate. Those individuals include the well-connected Torshin’s assistant Maria Butina, Trump supporter Paul Erickson, and former NRA chief David Keene, who has proven close to both Torshin and Butina.
The revelations from Senate Democrats about their take on the NRA’s connections to Russia have set off a predictable firestorm of talk about what has gone on.
How much these questions will be addressed by the ongoing Russia probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller remains to be seen. His investigation is, by all appearances, very alive and active, as reports keep leaking out about not previously known witnesses and lines of inquiry. No number of angry tweets will be able to stop him.
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