A former lawyer for the National Rifle Association says she’s “totally outraged” over a report that she expressed concerns about the gun group’s ties to Russia and possible use of Russian money to help Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign
In a Friday email to TPM, Cleta Mitchell, a longtime conservative lawyer and former NRA board member, came out swinging against McClatchy’s report that congressional investigators have learned she was worried about the Russian links.
“a) I have not been involved with NRA since 2012 when my board term expired, b) there is ZERO chance that NRA was involved in any way with Russian money as NRA has always been 100% meticulous about what money is spent for what and c) I’ve never ever expressed any concerns because I’ve never had such concerns,” Mitchell wrote. “Never crossed my mind. Ever.”
“I suggest you better not mention my name or if you mention it, you better say that the story is false and the House Dems’ statements are false and that this only underscores how there is nothing NOTHING to this entire Russia collusion story,” Mitchell added. “It is a complete fabrication by the left and their supplicants in the liberal media.”
Mitchell, a veteran conservative election lawyer who played a key role in stoking the IRS “scandal” under the Obama administration, blamed “scumbags” on “the left,” namely the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and the press for raising questions about reported ties between the NRA and Russia.
Two sources familiar with the matter who spoke to McClatchy on condition of anonymity declined to specify exactly how investigators became interested in Mitchell’s alleged concerns.
Schiff’s office declined to comment. A spokesperson for Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, did not immediately respond to TPM’s inquiry.
Mitchell was identified this week in a report released by Democrats on the House Intel Committee listing the witnesses and entities Democrats still want to contact as part of their probe into Russia’s election interference. The report says Mitchell’s work for the NRA “may be able to clarify for the Committee any Russian-related approaches to and interaction with the organization and persons of interest to the Committee during the 2016 election.”
In January, McClatchy reported that the FBI was investigating whether Alexander Torshin, a Russian banker with close ties to the NRA, channeled money to the NRA to boost Trump. The NRA has denied being contacted by the FBI, and has said it has safeguards in place to prevent it from using foreign money for politics.
McClatchy’s initial report, which noted that the NRA’s legislative arm spent an unprecedented $30 million to help support Trump’s campaign, sparked the interest of congressional investigators.
Other NRA-linked individuals on the House Intel Dems’ list of interviewees include Torshin’s former assistant Maria Butina; NRA member and conservative activist Paul Erickson who offered Trump’s campaign a “dialogue” with Russia; and Torshin friend Johnny Yenason.
Russia has made a concerted effort to make inroads with the gun lobbying giant in recent years, with Torshin hosting high-level NRA members for a visit to Moscow in 2015.
Mitchell’s full emails to TPM are below.
I am totally outraged about this story. I told one ABC reporter three weeks ago (and reiterated to the McClatchey reporter) that a) I have not been involved with NRA since 2012 when my board term expired, b) there is ZERO chance that NRA was involved in any way with Russian money as NRA has always been 100% meticulous about what money is spent for what and c) I’ve never ever expressed any concerns because I’ve never had such concerns. Never crossed my mind. Ever.
So the House Dems are spreading rumors and the McClatchey story is false and FAKE NEWS and I have told them they better fix that story immediately.
I now understand why Adam Schiff gets so much publicity. He and his staff are all in the media mix and all of you people just spread false rumors and treat them as fact. It is completely disgusting.
I suggest you better not mention my name or if you mention it, you better say that the story is false and the House Dems’ statements are false and that this only underscores how there is nothing NOTHING to this entire Russia collusion story. It is a complete fabrication by the left and their supplicants in the liberal media.
Scumbags. All of it.
Told that TPM would include her response, Mitchell followed up with this message:
There is NO story! The only story is the lying Dems on HSCI. There is zero basis for their even mentioning my name. If they talked to me I would tell them they are full of crap. There’s no story, no concern on my part and not a shred of truth to any of it.
The story is the lying by Schiff and the Dems. That’s the story. The only story.
This story has been updated.