REPS LIEU AND RICE QUESTION NRA CONNECTION TO 2015 MOSCOW TRIP
WASHINGTON - On Friday, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY) sent a letter to NRA Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre, asking about a 2015 trip that NRA associates took to Moscow, Russia in 2015. The trip has come under scrutiny because it further complicates ties between the NRA and Russia.
In the letter, the Members write:
Dear Mr. LaPierre:
As former prosecutors and Members of Congress serving in the new House majority, we are alarmed about the reported relationships between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Russian individuals, as well as reports that the Kremlin and the NRA may have coordinated to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections.
Over the past few years, it has become clear that the NRA has had an unusually close relationship with the Trump Campaign. The organization donated far more to the Trump campaign than it did to previous Republican nominees and endorsed Donald Trump earlier than usual. In the same time, we have grown increasingly alarmed by the complex web of relationships between individuals associated with the NRA and highly influential Russian officials.
As has been reported, in December 2015 former NRA presidents Pete Brownell and David Keene traveled to Moscow along with others associated with the organization to meet with Russian individuals including Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin. In May 2018, then-president of the NRA Pete Brownell, who participated in the 2015 Moscow trip, suddenly announced his retirement. In July 2018, Butina was arrested, and in December she pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent.
We understand that William A. Brewer III, the NRA’s outside counsel, stated that you were opposed to the NRA’s involvement in the trip. Recent reporting, however, suggests that the NRA was in fact involved. For example, the emails reviewed by reporters suggest that the NRA covered the travel expenses of some delegates and that NRA employees worked with Butina and other Russian individuals to make travel arrangements.
We are disturbed by the lack of transparency the NRA has demonstrated surrounding the December 2015 trip to Moscow. Furthermore, we are concerned that this extends to other allegations that have been made against the organization as it relates to Russia. We respectfully request a response to each of the following questions:
- What expenses did the NRA pay for the December 2015 trip to Moscow?
- Did the NRA discuss the December 2015 trip to Moscow with individuals associated with the Trump campaign in addition to Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke?
- Did any NRA officials communicate with Torshin, Butina, or any other Russia-linked individuals about efforts to interfere in and influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election?
- Did the NRA facilitate any meetings or communications between Trump campaign associates and Torshin or any other Russia-linked individuals?
- How much money did the NRA receive from Russia or Russia-linked individuals or entities during the 2016 election cycle?
- Did the NRA use any of that money in their 2016 election campaign contributions?
- Did any NRA officials discuss money laundering or the funneling of money from Russia to the NRA?
Any efforts by a foreign country, especially an adversary like Russia, to influence our elections directly threaten our democracy. It is imperative that Congress has a full understanding of these efforts. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your prompt response.
Rep. Ted W. Lieu
Rep. Kathleen Rice