McClatchy: ‘Now U.S. Investigators Want to Know if Relationships Between the Russian Leaders and the Nation’s Largest Gun Rights Group Went Beyond Vodka Toasts and Gun Factory Tours, Evolving Into Another Facet of the Kremlin’s Broad Election-Interference Operation’
Russia Expert and Atlantic Council Fellow Anders Aslund: ‘I Can’t Understand the NRA Meeting With Rogozin Since He Was Sanctioned in 2014….It’s So Embarrassing’
NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety released the following statement today in response to a new McClatchy report uncovering that several “elite Russians,” some in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, had contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 election.
According to McClatchy, known prominent Russians who met with NRA officials now include:
- Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s then-Deputy Prime Minister. Rogozin is a far-right nationalist who has “extensive ties to the Russian arms industry” and “is deeply hostile to the West,” said Mike Carpenter, a Russia specialist while a senior Pentagon official in the Obama Administration.
- Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin, Konstantin Malofeev, who was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 for his support of Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.
The FBI is reportedly investigating whether Russian banker, politician, lifetime NRA member and NRA donor Alexander Torshin “illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency” in 2016. Torshin was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department earlier this year. According to a recent report, the FBI recently obtained wiretaps of conversations between Torshin and a convicted Russian money launderer, Alexander Romanov, in which the Romanov referred to Torshin as “‘El Padrino,’ the godfather.”
STATEMENT FROM ANDREW ZUCKER, FEDERAL MEDIA RELATIONS DIRECTOR FOR EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:
“The NRA could put an end to questions about the NRA-Russia scandal, if only it were willing to come clean — on Russian money and its ties to Russia. Until the NRA tells the full truth about its Russia connections, Americans will wait for the next shoe to drop and wonder what the gun lobby is hiding.”
“The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.
“Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin.”
“McClatchy in January disclosed that Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating whether Torshin or others engineered the flow of Russian monies to the NRA; the Senate Intelligence Committee is also looking into the matter, sources familiar with the probe have said. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiries, which are part of sweeping, parallel investigations into Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. elections, have not been publicly announced.
“NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, however, that the FBI has not contacted the group.”
The NRA reported spending more than $55 million on the 2016 election including more than $30 million to elect President Trump. According to McClatchy, two NRA insiders say that the group’s actual election spending exceeded $70 million, including resources devoted to field operations and online advertising, which are not required to be publicly reported.