June 11, 2018 9:02 am -

We believe the answer is a big “Yes.”

Alexander Torshin at NRA convention, 2016

Peter Stone and Greg Gordon at McClatchey have uncovered another reason that NRA now stands for Nefarious Russian Asset.

Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin.

The Russians talked and dined with NRA representatives, mainly in Moscow, as U.S. presidential candidates vied for the White House. Now U.S. investigators want to know if relationships between the Russian leaders and the nation’s largest gun rights group went beyond vodka toasts and gun factory tours, evolving into another facet of the Kremlin’s broad election-interference operation.

The story is a substantial and detailed follow-up to McClatchy’s January scoop in which it was revealed that Special Counsel Ronert Mueller was investigating Torshin’s involvement in channeling Russian money to the NRA. For those of you catching up on the NRA story and the reason Team Mueller is so interested Torshin:

  • Torshin has been implicated in a years-long probe by Spanish law enforcement into his involvement with money-laundering by Russian organized crime;
  • In April, Torshin was among a number of Russian oligarchs targeted for US sanctions;
  • The NRA’s ties to Torshin date back to at least 2011, when the gun lobbyists first cultivated ties to Torshin, nd his protégé, Maria Butina (you can learn a lot about her at this Mother Jones article.

It is long past time to call the NRA what it is: a terrorist-coddling extremist group aligned with our nation’s existential enemies.

Dave "Doctor" Gonzo is a renegade media producer, occasional bassist, web developer, and Grammy® voter. He is editor and senior contributor to News Behaving Badly. He has written for American Politics Journal, Alan Colmes' Liberaland (Dave was also a semi-frequent Friday guest on Alan's radio show), and (in print) Audio Review. Dave lives in s fortified compound with doorman in Manhattan's not-so-trendy Yorkville neighborhood.