The National Rifle Association acted as a “foreign asset” for Russia in the period leading up to the 2016 election, according to a new investigation unveiled Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee’s Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin.
The report, available here, also describes how closely the gun rights group was involved with organizing a 2015 visit by some of its leaders to Moscow. The conclusions of the Senate investigation could have legal implications for the NRA, Wyden says.
The Daily Beast reports:
More than 4,000 pages of NRA records provided to Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the finance committee, documented deep connections between the beleaguered gun group and Maria Butina, who in December pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a Russian agent without registering with the Justice Department. Wyden’s report, released Friday and undertaken without the cooperation of committee Republicans, indicates that greed motivated some NRA officials to engage in the outreach.
Butina also made clear to NRA officials long before their controversial Butina-facilitated December 2015 trip to Moscow that Alexander Torshin, her patron and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was a man with mysterious pull in the Kremlin. She emailed former NRA president David Keene in January 2015 that Torshin’s appointment to the Russian central bank was “the result of a ‘big game’ in which he has a very important role. All the details we can discuss with you only in person.”