We learned this week that the NRA admitted to taking financial contributions from more than 20 people associated with Russian addresses or known Russian nationals living in the U.S. That admission raises serious questions about the truth of its prior statements to the American people. Less than a month ago, on March 19, the NRA responded to a letter from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) by stating that it had taken contributions from foreign individuals or entities during the 2015-2016 period, but that “none of those entities or individuals is connected with Russia.” Then, in a March 28 interview with ABC News, the NRA’s outside counsel said the organization had “one contribution from a Russian” since 2012: a “life membership payment” of less than $1,000 from Putin ally and Russian politician Alexander Torshin.
Now, the NRA has told Sen. Wyden that it is done answering questions, saying, “Given the extraordinarily time-consuming and burdensome nature of your requests, we must respectfully decline to engage in this beyond the clear answers we have already provided.”
The NRA doesn’t get it — you can’t tell the American people you’re done answering questions right after we learn new facts about your ties to Russia. There’s only one way to stop the tough questions: Tell the full truth.
Below are five basic questions raised by the NRA’s most recent admission:
- The NRA says it took more than 20 contributions from Russian-linked contributors since 2015. What about before 2015? The Torshin relationship dates back to at least 2011. Does the NRA’s most recent accounting of Russia-linked contributions even include its payment from Alexander Torshin?
- Has the NRA taken money from Maria Butina, who reportedly claimed after the 2016 election to have been a go between, connecting the Trump campaign with Russia during the election? In 2016, Alexander Torshin claimed that Butina was also a lifetime NRA member.
- What methodology did the NRA use to determine which contributions were “Russia-linked?”
- The NRA now says it is reevaluating its relationship with Torshin. Was the NRA aware that Torshin was an alleged member of Russian organized crime? Was the NRA aware of his outreach to the Trump campaign and apparent meeting with Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 NRA convention?
- Does the NRA still maintain a relationship with Alexander Torshin and/or Maria Butina?