The NRA has found itself in big trouble over a trip to Moscow that its leaders took with a now-convicted Russian spy. In a surprising move, the Senate Intelligence Committee has requested that the National Rifle Association (NRA) release documents with a Russian connection. NRA leaders have been on edge awaiting what will happen next.
In 2015, many of these leaders traveled to Moscow on a trip with Maria Butina. Supposedly, she was interested in starting a Russian version of the NRA.
Now, the intelligence committee wants all the NRA’s documents related to that trip. Butina was indicted last July, and the charge was working as an undeclared Russian operative linked to the Kremlin — a spy.
The NRA group met with an important Russian, former deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin. A former president of the NRA, David Keene, and the man who will become the NRA’s president, Peter Brownell both went with Butina. Others on the trip were, according to The Daily Beast:
‘Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, NRA donors Jim Gregory and Arnold and Hilary Goldschlager, and Jim Liberatore, the president and CEO of the Outdoor Channel.’
After she was arrested, the U.S. government became interested in Russia’s link to the gun lobby. Butina’s political patron, Alexander Torshin, has been linked to Russia’s important central bank. He supposedly wanted to set up a gun rights organization, Right to Bear Arms, in his own country. What no one in the NRA appeared to realize was that Russian citizens do not have the advantage that Americans have in their Second Amendment rights. Torshin has been sanctioned, since 2014.
The Senate Finance Committee wants NRA documents related to their Moscow trip. The senators on the committee expressed interest about whether the NRA accepted money from Russia through its nonprofit arm. Donald Trump received $30 million from the NRA for his presidential campaign.
NRA’s general counsel John Frazer claimed that all the organization received from Russia since 2012 was:
‘A total of approximately $2512.85 from people associated Russian addresses (and) about $525 (additional dues from Russian living in the U.S.)’
In April and before Butina’s arrest, Frazer wrote:
‘(G)iven the extraordinarily time-consuming and burdensome nature of your requests, we must respectfully decline to engage in this beyond the clear answers we have already provided.’
Not only that, but one of the NRA’s previous lead attorneys, William Brewer, has troubles of his own. A federal judge, Liam O’Grady, found that the Texas attorney did not disclose that another judge had sanctioned him over “$133,000 for using an unethical polling practice.” He was trying to unduly influence a jury pool.
Brewer challenged the ruling, but an appellate court upheld the penalty. The reason was that it agreed with O’Grady, who found Brewer “dismissive and uncaring.”
The attorney represented the NRA in its “Carry Guard” insurance program meant for “gun owners who shoot people.” While there, he claimed he had not “been reprimanded in any court.” As soon as the judge found out about the earlier sanction, he pulled Brewer.
His firm still represents the NRA.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.