DOJ Investigation Uncovers Additional Connections Between Russia and Top NRA Officials

McClatchy news is reporting that a Department of Justice investigation has turned up more coordination between Russia leaders and the leadership of the NRA. It’s unclear whether this investigation is part of the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, or whether it is a spin-off created after the Mueller team looked at connections between the Trump campaign and the NRA last year.

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 latest findings show that NRA representatives also met with deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin and oligarch Sergei Rudov during the campaign.

Connections between the NRA and Russian agents were obvious even before similar connections were exposed inside the Trump campaign. Not only has the NRA been the recipient of funds and support from Alexander Torshin—who holds the dual title of governor of Russia’s central bank and well-known crime boss—but, as Rolling Stone reported in April, the NRA has been a particular focus of Russia for at least a decade. NRA leaders have been feted in Moscow, representatives of Russian pro-gun organizations become part of the alt-Reich infrastructure in the United States, and funds have regularly flowed from Moscow into the coffers of the NRA and similar groups.

The new connections have surface from an ongoing look at connections between the NRA and Torshin. The Russian mobster, and also lifetime NRA member, is known to have channeled money to the NRA in 2016. The NRA has admitted to receiving funds from at least 23 Russian nationals. But they continue to claim that the amounts were small.

What the NRA hasn’t explained is how it got $30 million more in political contributions in 2016 than in previous years. The NRA hasn’t revealed the source of those donations, but the target is clear enough. 

The NRA, Trump’s biggest financial backer, spent more than $30 million to boost his upstart candidacy; that's more than double what it laid out for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and the NRA money started flowing much earlier in the cycle for Trump.

The reason for Russia’s support of the guns in America is clear enough: It’s a weakness. Just as Russia constantly attempts to pry open the cracks in American society around race to weaken both America’s resolve and its sense of holding the moral high-ground, they’ve also hit America on other “social conservative” points. Understanding that America is divided over the issue of guns in society, and that organizations like the NRA help to keep those divisions raw and bleeding, Russia is all too happy to help them deliver blasts of salt to the nation’s open wounds.

A pro-gun position is one of the identified ultra-nationalist, social-right positions that Russia supports in many areas. Putting military-grade weapons in the hands of the public is a move that builds instability, fear, and violence. Which is exactly what Russia wants … in other countries.

As Rolling Stone reported, Putin “became determined to exploit the American gun lobby." Torshin was identified by Putin as the person to make that happen.

Torshin was sanctioned in April, and his NRA connections became the focus of letters from both Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Ted Lieu demanding more information on the NRA’s connections to Torshin and other Russian officials.

To which, Bloomberg reported the NRA had a very clear reply.

The National Rifle Association is finished answering questions. That's what the organization told Senator Ron Wyden last week in a letter complaining about Wyden's "time-consuming and burdensome" inquiries into the NRA's ties to Russians.

The NRA can’t take the time to answer questions from US senators and congressmen. It has to devote that time to making videos attacking high school students. There are priorities here.

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