NRA lawyer said to have had concerns about group’s ties to Russia and meddling in 2016 elections
NRA CEO LaPierre at CPAC: The Association has denied ties with Russia or meddling in the elections to favor Donald Trump
Congressional investigators are examining information that a longtime attorney for the National Rifle Association reportedly raised concerns about the group’s ties to Russia and collusion in meddling in with the 2016 presidential elections to help candidate Donald Trump,
McClatchy reported that Cleta Mitchell , former NRA board member and longtime attorney for the association, expressed concerns over the possibility that the organization was involved in channeling Russian funds into the 2016 presidential elections to help the campaign candidate Donald Trump.
Cleta Mitchell, a former NRA board member who has done legal work for the organization, is on a newly disclosed list of people whom Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are seeking to interview. Democratic investigators for that committee’s Senate counterpart also are interested in what she may know about relationships between the NRA or its allies and wealthy Russians, sources told McClatchy.
While Senate Democrats reportedly, also want to find out information she may have regarding the NRA’s possible ties to Russia, Mitchell, a prominent gun rights champion, election law specialist and veteran conservative operative has denied raising such concerns. She told the news outlet in an email that any suggestion she has concerns about the NRA’s Russia connections is a “complete fabrication.”
“I have no knowledge of anything like this and zero concerns whatsoever about anyone — Russians or otherwise, who ‘funneled’ funds to [or] through NRA,” she told McClatchy.
The organization “is meticulous about following all the rules,” she said.
NRA, the nation’s leading gun rights lobby was the biggest backer of Trump’s presidential campaign, spending $30 million to help propel him to his upset victory in the last presidential elections.
His election however, has been mired in controversy and in January, the NRA was drawn into the furor over Russian interference in the election when McClatchy reported that the FBI was investigating whether Russian banker and “lifetime” NRA member, Alexander Torshin, who hosted a high-level NRA delegation in Moscow in late 2015, funneled funds to the NRA to help Trump.
It’s illegal for foreign funds to be spent in American elections.
Cleta Mitchell [left], seen here with conservative columnist George Will, has denied ever raising concerns over NRA and Russia ties or 2016 political meddling
In the wake of partisan bickering and abrupt ending of the House Intelligence Committee probe into Russian meddling in the presidential elections, Mitchell’s name surfaced after House Republicans issued a 150-page report that concluded there was no “collusion” between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Angry Democrats have responded by issuing a wide-ranging, 21-page status report on Tuesday laying out areas of inquiry that were short-circuited by the majority’s decision, vowing to pursue them independently. Cleta Mitchell was among more than two dozen people the Democrats said they would like to interview, including two other figures with connections to Alexander Torshin and the NRA.
The report said Democratic investigators want to know if Mitchell “can shed light on the NRA’s relationship with Alexander Torshin” or other Russians and also want to see financial records from a South Dakota company and a Russian gun rights group.
To date neither the FBI, in concert with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, nor the congressional committees have provided details of potentially improper Russian involvement with the NRA.
President Trump addressed the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention on April 28, 2017. He’s the first president to do so in more than 30 years. “The eight-year assault on your second amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end,” Trump said. Recently, he reassured the NRA, ‘I will never ever let you down’, just as pressure for gun laws escalated
“I have no knowledge of anything like this and zero concerns whatsoever about anyone — Russians or otherwise — who ‘funneled’ funds to / through NRA,” she said. The NRA “ is meticulous about following all the rules. This is all a complete fabrication.”
Mitchell said she would be willing to talk to investigators but it would be “…wasting everyone’s time and money…”
Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was linked in a secret report by Spanish prosecutors to a money-laundering scheme in Spain that led to a guilty plea in 2016 by one of his Russian associates.
Torshin has denied any role in money laundering or connections to organized crime.
The other two NRA-related figures the House minority wants to interview are Russian-born former Torshin assistant Maria Butina, who, with Torshin, founded a Moscow-based gun rights group in 2012, Right to Bear Arms, and Paul Erickson, a South Dakota conservative operative who has raised funds in the past for the NRA.
Anti NRA-Russia protestrs in Portland Ore. Feb 3, 2018 carry placards showing their anger over the alleged $30M interference in the electoral process by a foreign power
The House Democrats’ report said Butina “appears to have been active with the NRA in recent years within the U.S.” and “may be able to clarify for the committee the origin and purpose of alleged Russian-directed efforts to approach U.S. organizations and persons connected to the Trump campaign throughout and prior to 2016.”
It has been reported that in early 2016, Butina and Erickson set up Bridges LLC, a South Dakota-based limited liability company that was meant to help Butina with funds for graduate classes at American University in Washington, according to Erickson,
The House Democrats noted that the pair had attempted to arrange “a meeting between Donald Trump and Putin through their connection to the National Rifle Association” and recommended seeking from Bridges “records relative to any donations made to the NRA during the campaign, in particular to determine whether foreign money was funneled to the organization” to support Trump.
They similarly urged that records be sought from Right to Bear Arms, Butina’s Moscow group
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