McClatchy Reports That FBI Is Investigating Whether Russian Banker With Close Ties to Putin and NRA Illegally Funneled Russian Money to NRA During 2016 Election
Report Uncovers NRA Spending On 2016 Election Could Have Exceeded $70 Million — Far More Than NRA Spent On Any Previous Election, and More Than NRA Publicly Reported
NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, released the following statement today on reports that the FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker with close ties to Vladimir Putin and the NRA funneled money into the NRA in order to support President Donald Trump’s election campaign. The NRA was Trump’s biggest outside financial backer during the 2016 election.
STATEMENT FROM JOHN FEINBLATT, PRESIDENT OF EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:
“It’s time for the NRA to come clean. For years, they cozied up to Moscow and a banker now under FBI investigation for meddling in the election. Now they won’t answer any questions about it. It makes you wonder how much they really spent on Trump in 2016 and where that money might’ve come from.”
The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.
FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, 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…
However, 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.
Two people with close connections to the powerful gun lobby said its total election spending actually approached or exceeded $70 million. The reporting gap could be explained by the fact that independent groups are not required to reveal how much they spend on Internet ads or field operations, including get-out-the-vote efforts.
Late last year, the New York Times reported that the Russian banker at the center of FBI investigations, lifetime NRA member Aleksander Torshin, reached out through multiple connections to the Trump campaign to seek a meeting with then-candidate Trump during the NRA’s 2016 convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in order to “arrange a meeting” between Trump and Vladimir Putin.
The Washington Post previously reported how, around the same time Russia began a covert campaign to meddle in the presidential election, NRA leaders had “forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally.”
The report found that in 2011, then-NRA president David Keene began a close friendship with Torshin when Torshin was deputy director of the Russian Central Bank. That same year, Torshin began building a pro-gun movement in Russia with the help of Maria Butina, who has since claimed to be a go-between between the Trump campaign and Russia. For years, Torshin and Butina traveled to the U.S. to meet with top NRA officials, while NRA leaders have traveled to Russia, including meetings with Torshin, Butina and a sanctioned Russian official.
Questions for NRA leadership:
1. Has the NRA received any money from Russia or Russian-linked individuals?
2. McClatchy reports that NRA spending during the 2016 election may have exceeded $70 million, but the NRA reported spending only $55 million (still far more than they ever spent on a previous election cycle). Will the NRA definitively say how much it spent during the 2016 election, and reveal the sources of that funding?
3. Will NRA leadership fully cooperate with any FBI inquiries into its relationship with Aleksander Torshin, and Russia before and during the 2016 election?
4. Did any NRA officials communicate with Aleksander Torshin or any other representative of the Russian government about the 2016 election or the NRA’s support for Donald Trump?