NRA: FBI Probing Russian Banker, Not Us

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 28:  Wayne LaPierre,  executive vice president and CEO of the NRA, speaks at the NRA-ILA's Leadership Forum at the 146th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 28, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. The convention is the largest annual gathering for the NRA's more than 5 million members.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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In a letter to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the National Rifle Association pushed back on last month’s McClatchy report that the FBI is investigating whether the group illegally received money from a Russian government banker, Alexander Torshin.

“As the article itself makes clear (and as the author of the article has made clear to counsel for the NRA) the article refers to an investigation of Mr. Torshin, not of the NRA,” NRA general counsel John Frazer wrote in the February 15 letter to Wyden, in response to a request from Wyden for documents on the issue.

“There has been no contact between the FBI and the NRA,” Frazer added.

McClatchy had reported that the FBI was probing whether Torshin, a Putin ally and deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, had “illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Donald Trump win the presidency.”

Wyden’s office provided the NRA’s letter to TPM Friday.

“Senator Wyden is reviewing the NRA’s response and considering additional follow-up questions,” a Wyden aide told TPM.

“As a longstanding policy to comply with federal election law, the NRA and its related entities do not accept funds from foreign persons or entities in connection with United States elections,” Frazer continued. “The vast majority of NRA donations come from millions of small individual donors. Contributions are carefully monitored in order to comply with Internal Revenue Services and Federal Election Commission regulations. Significant contributions from unknown entities are vetted to ensure the legitimacy of donors.”

Torshin and Right to Bear Arms, which lists a who’s who of right-wing Russian politicians among its members, has maintained years-long relationships with multiple consecutive NRA presidents, plying them with gifts, speaking engagements and trips to Russia.

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