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Retired CIA Chief of Russia Operations: Russia Sought “Mechanism by Which They Can, Sort of, Control the NRA

NEW: Rolling Stone Uncovers NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and Other Top NRA Brass Met With Self-Described Connection Between Russia and Trump Campaign, Maria Butina

ALSO NEW: During 2015 NRA Delegation Trip, NRA Surrogate Sheriff David Clarke Met With Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — NRA Hasn’t Said Who Else Met With Russia’s Top Foreign Policy Minister

NEW YORK – In case you missed it, a must-read Rolling Stone article this morning describes a “decade-long Russian campaign to infiltrate the NRA and help elect Trump” in 2016. The piece contains several new revelations concerning relationships between top NRA officials and individuals in Vladimir Putin’s orbit, and follows the NRA’s recent admission that it took money from top Putin ally Alexander Torshin.

Key Points from Rolling Stone’s new report:

  • Retired CIA Chief of Russia Operations Steven Hall said that Putin was “reaching out to attract the NRA, specifically, over to Russia,” and that the Russians sought a “mechanism by which they can, sort of, control the NRA.”
  • NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and other top NRA officials met with Maria Butina during the 2014 NRA convention in Indianapolis.

    Butina helped found the Russian gun group the Right to Bear Arms with Alexander Torshin, who is reportedly at the center of an FBI probe into “whether Russian money went to [the] NRA to help Trump.” After the 2016 election, Butina claimed to have been a go between, connecting the Trump campaign and Russia. The Russian gun group she founded with Torshin has attracted recent scrutiny for posting a direct-to-camera video of new National Security Advisor John Bolton praising “a new era of freedom” in Russia and calling for Russia to expand gun rights.

  • During the 2015 NRA delegation trip to Moscow, led by now-NRA President Pete Brownell, top NRA fundraiser Joe Gregory and others, NRA surrogate Sheriff David Clarke claims to have met with Vladimir Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The NRA has not said whether other NRA leaders also met with Lavrov.

    STATEMENT FROM JOHN FEINBLATT, PRESIDENT OF EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:

    “Coming on the heels of their admission that they accepted money from one of Putin’s top allies, this report takes the NRA’s engagement with Russian officials to a whole new level. How much longer before the NRA comes clean about all of their ties to Russian interests?”

    New questions for the NRA:

    • Did Wayne LaPierre discuss American politics with Maria Butina when the two met at the 2014 NRA convention? Did they maintain a relationship through the 2016 election? Which other NRA officials met with Butina during the 2014 NRA convention?
    • Has LaPierre met with Alexander Torshin, who also attended the 2014 NRA convention in Indianapolis?
    • Did David Clarke discuss the 2016 presidential election, or Donald Trump, during his meeting with Sergey Lavrov in Moscow in 2015? Which other individuals on the 2015 NRA delegation trip met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov?
    • Last week, ABC reported that lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin donated to the NRA between 2012-2018. Has lifetime NRA member Maria Butina also donated to the NRA?