The NRA and Russia

Everytown for Gun Safety billboard trucks have been driving around in Dallas with this image.

"The National Rifle Association is setting aside years of documents related to its interactions with a Kremlin-linked banker, as the gun-rights group appears to be bracing for a possible investigation, according to sources familiar with the situation." - CNN, 4/27/18

The annual gathering of the NRA, which kicks off today in Dallas, will include a bevy of special guests, including President Trump and Vice President Pence.

The NRA "guns everywhere" agenda will be on full display in Dallas, even as the FBI investigates whether Alexander Torshin, a top Russian banker, and ally to Vladimir Putin, illegally funneled money to the NRA to help sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.

Additionally, investigators for three congressional committees probing Russia’s 2016 operations have also shown an interest in Torshin, who is a lifetime NRA member and has attended several of its annual conventions.

This is the third year in a row that Trump will take the stage, and after the NRA poured $30 million into Trump's 2016 campaign.

At the NRA’s meeting in Kentucky in May 2016, Torshin spoke to Donald Trump Jr. during an event at the group’s national gathering, where his father won an earlier-than-usual NRA presidential endorsement.

Now the NRA is bracing for an investigation into possible campaign finance violations with Russia, and yet many Republicans in Congress still take their money.

The NRA has fought every meaningful attempt at gun reform. Now, it appears that they may have broken the law. But Republicans in Congress don't seem to care. And neither do Trump or Pence.   

Despite the investigation, Trump and Pence are slated to speak.

And despite the country's overwhelming call for common sense gun laws, Trump and Pence will more than likely reiterate their support for the NRA’s "guns everywhere" agenda.

Attendees at the annual meeting can carry their firearms except during the forum where Trump and Pence speak. The NRA says the ban was ordered by the U.S. Secret Service.

So much for the good guys and their “guns everywhere.”

A self-identified NRA member had this to say about the no gun policy: "Me personally, I won't be listening to him speak. I won't be going anywhere that I cant carry my firearm. It's essentially the nations largest get together for gun owners, and they won't let law abiding legal gun owners carry guns because someone who's supposedly pro 2A thinks its too 'dangerous'? thats liberal logic right there."

President Trump addressed the NRA convention on April 28, 2017. He was the first president to do so in more than 30 years. “The eight-year assault on your second amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end,” Trump said in that speech.

Bloomberg News in August 2016:

“Torshin, a leading figure in Putin’s party, has been implicated in money laundering by judicial authorities in Spain. … Spanish investigators alleged in an almost 500-page internal report that Torshin… capitalized on his government role to assist mobsters laundering funds through Spanish properties and banks.”

A summary of the report obtained by McClatchy DC Bureau linked Torshin to Russian money laundering and described him as a godfather in a Russian criminal organization known as the Taganskaya.

According to McClatchy DC Bureau in January 2018:

“FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of …  the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said. It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.”

According to NPR in March 2018:

“A prominent Kremlin-linked Russian politician has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association and documented efforts in real time over six years to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into American politics, NPR has learned. Russian politician Alexander Torshin said his ties to the NRA provided him access to Donald Trump — and the opportunity to serve as a foreign election observer in the United States during the 2012 election.”

According to Business Insider in March 2018

“The National Rifle Association is fielding a growing number of questions about its ties to Alexander Torshin…  who has been described as "President Putin's emissary" in the US … said that he knew President Donald Trump through the NRA.”

According to Mother Jones in the May/June Issue 2018:

“Now attention is focused around a middle-aged Russian central bank official and a photogenic young gun activist from Siberia who share several passions: posing with assault rifles, making connections with Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates, and publicizing their travels between Moscow and America on social media. Alexander Torshin and his protégé Maria Butina also share an extraordinary status with America’s largest gun lobbying group, according to Torshin: “Today in NRA (USA) I know only 2 people from the Russian Federation with the status of ‘Life Member’: Maria Butina and I,” he tweeted the day after Donald Trump was elected president.”

Trump, who revoked Obama-era gun checks for the mentally ill, had this to say at the NRA’s 2017 convention: “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.”

Stay tuned for what Trump will say today.