It has been four days since news broke that Russian national and purported lifetime NRA member Maria Butina had been charged by DOJ with “conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General” and acting as a foreign agent and the NRA still has not made a public statement.
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.
Rolling Stone’s Jamil Smith writes:
“As of this writing, the NRA has issued no public comment about this week’s arrest and indictment of Maria Butina, a 29-year-old Russian gun rights activist who had spent years ingratiating herself with the NRA, as well as Republican politicians and conservative notables. Butina is suspected of conspiracy to act as an unauthorized agent of the Russian Federation within the United States without the authorization of the Attorney General.
“And yet all we hear from the notoriously outspoken group is crickets.
“The NRA contributed $30 million to help elect Donald Trump in 2016. The FBI has been investigating whether some or all of that cash may have been supplied by Russia. Rolling Stone reported in April that the Russian central banker Alexander Torshin, along with Butina, had deeper ties to the NRA than previously known. The NRA even flew a delegation to Moscow in 2015 to meet with Kremlin officials, including one freshly sanctioned by the Obama administration.”
In 2014, Butina attended her first of three consecutive NRA conventions. Torshin and Butina’s attendance at NRA conventions gave them access to prominent Republican figures, including President Donald Trump, Governor Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and others. Butina and Torshin also regularly attended dinners and VIP events for the NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom — its million-dollar donor program. The Washington Post reported, “[Butina] and Torshin got unusual access to elite NRA gatherings, according to a person familiar with NRA event arrangements. In recent years, they were regular guests at Golden Ring of Freedom dinners and VIP events reserved for people who typically donate $1 million to the NRA.”
So, why won’t the NRA comment on Maria Butina’s arrest?