The NRA was the largest single contributor to Trump’s campaign. Their $30 million contribution was almost 10 percent of all the money that Trump raised. That contribution seems to match a surprising jump in the NRA’s own revenues.
The NRA’s tax return for the election year of 2016 showed a surge in contributions and grants to $124.4 million, compared with $95 million the prior year.
The NRA got $30 million more in 2016 … and fed $30 million out to Trump. But, as a non-profit, the NRA isn’t required to describe the source of all its funding. Around $19 million seems to have come from memberships and member contributions. That leaves a lot of funds left to explain—and at least one NRA board member with some worries.
Congressional investigators have learned that a longtime attorney for the National Rifle Association expressed concerns about the group’s ties to Russia and possible involvement in channeling Russian money into the 2016 elections to help Donald Trump, two sources familiar with the matter say.
Attorney Cleta Mitchell was on the list of people who Democrats wanted to appear before the House Intelligence Committee—one of the over fifty people who Devin Nunes refused to bring in. Safely free of the threat to testify, Mitchell denies that she ever had an issue. But there’s a good reason to worry. A good reason to think that the NRA didn’t get a $30 million contribution bump, so much as it provided a $30 million pipeline to bring Russian money to Donald Trump.
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.
Which would be a problem for both the NRA and Trump.
There’s a reason that Democrats wanted to talk to Mitchell that goes beyond her work for the NRA.
Mitchell, a lawyer with Foley & Lardner, has worked with several prominent conservative organizations and has helped set up nonprofit groups that can legally spend some funds on elections but keep donors secret. She has also worked for an A-list of Republican lawmakers and candidates, including Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Pat Toomey (Penn.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.).
But as McClatchy reports, the NRA contributions caught the eye of Democrats on the House committee, and appear to have also garnered some attention from the FBI. With very good reason.
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.
To recap—a long-time NRA member and supporter is Alexander Torshin, a Russian who is also the deputy governor a state-owned Russian bank. The NRA got a $30 million bump in revenues in 2016, just as they were handing out $30 million to Donald Trump. No one know what the source of that big jump in funds might be.
But they have some good ideas. The Democratic status report on the abruptly closed House investigation, also includes other NRA members who attempted to arrange …
“a meeting between Donald Trump and Putin through their connection to the National Rifle Association”
Democrats in both the House and Senate have attempted to get NRA officials to testify, but without the support of Republicans on respective committees, have no means of subpoenaing witnesses.
The NRA has stated that it has never funneled foreign contributions to a US campaign. However, it hasn’t discussed whether it might have received foreign funds which it used for operating expenses, then shifted other funds to contributions.