The parallels between Nixon’s Watergate scandal, the first special counsel investigation to end a presidency, and Trump’s Russian collusion scandal are numerous, but two very famous lines from the 1973 investigation perhaps resonate most clearly today. The first is the question investigators were tasked with answering and that Mueller will most likely need to answer now, as well: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”
The other famous saying appears to be what Mueller’s focus is now: “Follow the money.”
The NRA spent $30 million to elect Donald Trump–triple what it spent on Mitt Romney. Now Mueller is investigating whether any of that money is connected to Russia.https://t.co/xS0U192NAH
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) June 22, 2018
The money trail behind the election of Donald Trump is a long and winding one, but what is unknown at this time is whether or not the Russian government significantly contributed to it. It is illegal, under U.S. campaign finance law, for foreign money to be used to influence an election.
Mueller has gotten into the NRA's tax filings to see where all that Russian money ended up in the 2016 Election. https://t.co/L7OHUhGeBH
— #TrumpCantSwim? (@TrumpCantSwim) July 2, 2018
As a non-profit organization, the NRA is not required to make their donor list public. However, they do not get to hide those “dark donors” from the IRS. According to McClatchy:
‘On the returns, the group was required to identify its so-called “dark money” donors — companies and wealthy individuals who financed $21 million of the group’s publicly disclosed pro-Trump spending, as well as its multimillion-dollar efforts to heighten voter turnout. The NRA’s nonprofit status allows it to shield those donors’ names from the public, but not the IRS.
‘A central question for Mueller’s office is whether any of the confidential donors’ names hold clues that could enable investigators to trace a donation camouflaged to hide its Russian origins – such as a shell company that might be the end point in a chain of offshore transactions.’
— The Hill (@thehill) July 2, 2018
At the heart of the suspicions around the NRA’s unprecedented donations to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign is Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who, ironically, has been tied to money laundering. Torshin surprisingly appeared at an NRA event in Louisville, Kentucky when Trump accepted the organizations’ endorsement.
‘At the May 2016 NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky, where Donald Trump accepted the group’s endorsement, Torshin shared a table at dinner with the candidate’s son Donald Jr. According to Bloomberg, Torshin claimed to also have met now-president Trump at the convention, and that: “He keeps photos of the event on his computer tablet.”
‘The 2016 NRA convention came off just as Russians were actively seeking contact with the Trump campaign – just weeks earlier, a Russian conduit told Trump staffer George Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of her emails. – and hoping to set up a meeting with Trump and Putin.’
In May 2016, Torshin confirmed to Russian reporters that he had been seated at the same table as Donald Trump Jr. at a private dinner during the NRA convention that same month in Louisville, Kentucky. https://t.co/FpvKvqIKqR
— CJ (@CAJinSB) February 23, 2018
Now, it seems the NRA may be just as entangled in the Russian collusion investigation as the Trump administration itself.
Featured image via Getty/Brooks Kraft