Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) is the latest member of Congress to ask the National Rifle Association for answers about its ties to Russian officials close to the Kremlin.
Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, pointed to a spate of recent news reports about Russia’s efforts to cultivate relationships with members of the influential gun group and associates of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Particular threads of interest are a 2015 trip to Moscow taken by NRA top brass, and the reported FBI investigation into whether Aleksander Torshin, a Russian banker and accused criminal, illegally funneled money to the NRA to boost Trump’s campaign.
“This complex web of Russian officials, NRA officials, and Trump campaign associates raises serious concerns,” Lieu wrote.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has sent two letters to the gun rights giant asking similar questions.
In a Feb. 15 response to Wyden, NRA general counsel John Frazer said the group has procedures in place to prevent it from accepting foreign money for political activities. And Frazer said Torshin, not the NRA, was the target of the FBI probe.
“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,” Frazer wrote, referring to a McClatchy report that broke news of the FBI investigation.
“There has been no contact between the FBI and the NRA,” Frazer added.
Lieu wants to know whether the NRA communicated with Torshin or other “Russian-linked individuals” about efforts to interfere with the 2016 election; whether the NRA facilitated meetings between Trump associates and Russians; and whether the NRA received money from Russia or Russia-linked individuals during the presidential race.
Read Lieu’s full letter below: