In case you missed it, the National Rifle Association was notably absent from CBS’ 60 Minutes segment yesterday on the gun lobby’s top priority legislation, “concealed carry reciprocity.” During the TV segment, 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft said that the NRA declined to participate. Then on 60 Minutes Overtime, Kroft said after the NRA was initially cooperative, “we had interviews that were set up and canceled the day before and then postponed sort of indefinitely.” Kroft said by refusing to participate the NRA “missed an opportunity.”
One must wonder: Was the NRA worried about being questioned about its ties to Russia?
For months, the NRA has refused to answer basic questions about its ties to Russia and Putin’s regime, even as McClatchy reported that the FBI is investigating “whether Russian money went to [the] NRA to help Trump” get elected in 2016. Five days after McClatchy’s report, the NRA issued a carefully worded statement through its outside counsel, saying it has “not been contacted by the FBI about anything related to Russia.” Besides that statement, the NRA has ignored growing questions about its relationship with Russia for nearly a year.
The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – nearly triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential race. Most of that money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors, and according to McClatchy, NRA spending may have actually exceeded $70 million during the 2016 election.
The NRA’s refusal to participate in this 60 Minutes piece is just the latest example of the NRA’s continued silence on its relationship with Russia. Last week, a Bloomberg View editorial called for the NRA to come clean and “disclose any Russian ties.” A day earlier, Talking Points Memo published a report that raised new questions about why the NRA has boosted the Russian gun group, the Right to Bear Arms, and why it sent an NRA delegation to meet with the organization in Moscow in December 2015. The NRA did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
And two weeks ago, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent letters to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the NRA’s Treasurer requesting documents about possible financial ties between Russia and the NRA. Sen. Wyden’s letter to the NRA requested the documents by this Friday, February 16.