A Russian-NRA Connection?

This is juicy — McClatchy reports,

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

Jonathan Chait writes,

The banker, Alexsandr Torshin, has close ties to Vladimir Putin, and the sort of shady connections one expects from an oligarch in the Putin circle. (He has been charged with money laundering overseas and links to mobsters.) Torshin is also a lifetime member of the NRA, hosted NRA delegations visiting Russia, has attended several NRA conventions, and has spoken with gun enthusiast Donald Trump Jr.

Torshin is not the only link between the NRA and Putin. Last February, Tim Mak profiled Maria Butina, a gun-rights activist who has worked in American right-wing politics. At one Washington party immediately after the election, Butina “brazenly claimed that she had been part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia, two individuals who were present said. On other occasions, in one of her graduate classes, she repeated this claim,” Mak reported.

Both Butina and Torshin have also worked with Paul Erickson, a veteran Republican operative and gun rights activist who has cultivated close ties to Russia. Erickson has called the alliance between the NRA and “Right to Bear Arms,” its Russian counterpart, a “moral-support operation both ways.” There is a genuine ideological connection between the right-wing ideology of the NRA and of many Russian nationalists, a strand of violence-obsessed authoritarian pan-European nationalism.

It’s not clear how long this investigation has been going on. Chait continues,

It is also worth contemplating the effect any legal trouble for the NRA would have upon the Republican Congress. There is no more untouchable faction of the Republican Party than the NRA. Already, Trump’s allies have coalesced behind him and used their investigative power to support his wild claims that the FBI is part of a sinister deep-state conspiracy against him. If the NRA is swept up in Robert Mueller’s probe, the pressure on Republicans to fire or hamstring his investigation would ramp up to overwhelming levels.

Something’s got to crack like an egg eventually. If the Republican Party doesn’t crack, it could be the Constitution.

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5 thoughts on “A Russian-NRA Connection?

  1. Color me — not surprised. It should be obvious to anyone paying attention ( and I have been saying this for years): the NRA is the largest, most dangerous, most effective terrorist syndicate on Earth. Bigger than ISIS. Bigger than Al Qaeda. And they are insidious; no head scarfs or poorly groomed beards (for the most part!) like you might see with the stereotypical Jihadist.

  2. My bet, sadly, is that the US Constitution cracks first.

    Sure, when it was written over 200 years ago, the Founding Fathers built-in flexibility – the amendment process – to accomodate for changes in the future.  

    What it cannot accomodate, is the recklessness and insanity of the modern Republican Party, and its mercury-like ability to defy direction and control once it is loosed from its container.  And the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts not only loosed their container, but  obliterated it!

    Today's Republicans can hold any one of the 360 possible degree positions on any issue.

    The only reason for this mercurial flexibility, is that to please its base, the position at any time must, MUST, be completely 180 degrees to the opposite of what the Democratic/Liberal/Progressive one is at any particular nanosecond!

    The result of this "philosophy", is that sometimes, when the Democrats want to compromise, or even just move on to something else, and come around to the Republican position, the Republicans then go and occupy the position just held by the Democrats.

    This is why liberals should tell conservatives that President Obama's FDA recommended that to improve their health, people should never drink water, and only drink bleach and antifreeze! 

    The Constitution is on the verge of shattering, trying to keep up with the Republican Party.

    And this is the Republicans fondest dream.  Then they can write their own constitution – or blow the dust off of "The Articles of Confederation"- the result of which will be the following:

    First, in unison, the liberals will be confined and then executed.

    Second, in murderous factional infighting, the conservatives will all kill one another.

    But before the last one dies, s/he will hoist The Stars and Bars, claim "Mission Accomplished" over the evil liberals, then give one last "rebel yell," and die.

  3. What scares me is what it would take for the GOP and RightW(h)ing(e)NoiseMachine to crack. It'd have to be a boil on top of an abscess spreading to cellulitis, caused by an underlying cancer – unless the corruption is that metaphorically deep and objectively obvious, they'll deflect, attack, claim persecution, and besides, both sides do it….

    It's scary, but I also sincerely think it's what the nation needs. Anything less won't be enough, and it will likely be the Constitution that cracks instread.

  4. One of the reasons I did not go to trial, but had to settle in a plea deal is the power a federal judge has to select his (or her) jury. The prosecution can excuse x number of prospective jurors for no reason. The defense can excuse y number of prospective jurors for no reason. (Y is greater than x but I forget the exact numbers.) The judge has unlimited power to excuse jurors for any reason. The judge assigned to my case was certain to ask jurors if they would swear to follow her instructions. This meant it was very unlikely I'd get even one juror who would hang the jury because the prosecution was basically unfair, regardless of the law. 

    When/if stuff gets into a courtroom, you might cynically expect there can be no just verdict when about a third of voters has rejected objective reality as a criterion. Depending on the judge assigned to the case, that portion of the population who thinks Fox is reliable and InfoWars is truth might be excused from the jury – not because they are conservative but because they exhibit to the judge an inclination to apply "alternative facts" which weren't introduced as evidence. 

    All I'm sayin' is some judges take this very seriously. If you can't discern between evidence introduced in court, and your wingnut reality, you may be thanked but sent home. Some people are cunning enough to hide their fact-free prejudice but most of them like to fly their freak openly. There's no check on what questions a judge might ask – nor does the judge have to justify the matrix to a higher court. 

    The judge I got was not my "first pick" if I'd a voice in the selection, but she was smart and thorough. Any of the people under indictment would have a very tough time with her. If the NRA/Russia connection is there, I would not expect the NRA to do well in court, assuming the evidence is there.

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