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Senate Democrats accuse the NRA of being a ‘foreign asset’ to Russia during 2016 elections

According to an investigation released Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, the National Rifle Association acted as a “foreign asset” to Russia in the time leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., center, and other congressional leaders, react to a failed meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on infrastructure, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2019.
Associated Press

An investigation released Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said that the National Rifle Association acted as a “foreign asset” to Russia before the 2016 presidential election, according to multiple reports.

The Senate Finance Committee Democrats investigation found that top officials in the NRA use the organization’s financial resources to obtain favors from Aleksander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, and his deputy, Maria Butina, who said they had access to top Russian officials, according to NBC.

The investigators focused on a 2015 trip in which Torshin and Butina brought NRA officials to Moscow.

“This report lays out in significant detail that the NRA lied about the 2015 delegation trip to Moscow,” Wyden said in a statement. “This was an official trip undertaken so NRA insiders could get rich.”

According to NPR, the conclusion in the Senate investigation could have a legal impact for the NRA. Currently, tax-exempt organizations can’t use funds for the personal benefit of its officials, or for any actions outside their stated missions.

“The NRA has abused its tax-exempt status and essentially become a business enterprise that its board members and leadership use for lucrative personal business opportunities, including in Moscow,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Friday. “As the disturbing truth continues to surface, the NRA’s status as a tax-exempt entity needs to be thoroughly investigated.”

The investigation was limited in scope and relied on the NRA to hand over documents, NBC reported. Attorneys general in New York and the District of Columbia are also conducting separate probes into alleged wrongdoing at the NRA — these will reportedly have a broader scope than the Senate report and will focus on more than just Russia.