Ties between the National Rifle Association and influential Russians were substantial and potentially lucrative enough to render the politically potent gun lobby an “asset” of Russia, according to a Senate Democrat’s year-plus investigation.
More than 4,000 pages of NRA records provided to Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the finance committee, documented deep connections between the beleaguered gun group and Maria Butina, who in December pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a Russian agent without registering with the Justice Department. Wyden’s report, released Friday and undertaken without the cooperation of committee Republicans, indicates that greed motivated some NRA officials to engage in the outreach.
Butina also made clear to NRA officials long before their controversial Butina-facilitated December 2015 trip to Moscow that Alexander Torshin, her patron and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was a man with mysterious pull in the Kremlin. She emailed former NRA president David Keene in January 2015 that Torshin’s appointment to the Russian central bank was “the result of a ‘big game’ in which he has a very important role. All the details we can discuss with you only in person.”