The National Rifle Association is setting aside years of documents related to its interactions with a Kremlin-linked banker, as the gun-rights group appears to be bracing for a possible investigation, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The NRA has faced fresh scrutiny from congressional investigators about its finances and ties to Alexander Torshin, one of the 17 prominent Russian government officials the US Treasury Department recently slapped with sanctions. The gun-rights group has said it is reexamining its relationship with Torshin, who is a lifetime NRA member, in the wake of the sanctions.
The renewed attention has highlighted the close-knit if sometimes uneasy alliance between top NRA officials and Torshin -- a relationship that ensnared members of Trump's team during the presidential campaign, inviting further congressional scrutiny.
Those inquiries could shed light on the tightly held fundraising practices and political activities of the NRA. The political powerhouse shelled out more than $30 million in 2016 to back Donald Trump's candidacy -- more than it spent on 2008 and 2012 political races combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Vice President Mike Pence is slated to speak at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Dallas next Friday, an official told CNN.
The NRA recently found itself facing allegations that the FBI was investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money through the group to bolster Trump, according to a McClatchy report. The NRA has publicly denied any contact from the FBI and insisted it hasn't accepted illegal donations.
Despite the public denials, officials at the gun-rights group have been anxiously preparing as if they were already under investigation, sources said. Some employees have been tasked with preserving years of documents mentioning Torshin or his associate, Maria Butina, who runs a pro-guns group in Russia, a source familiar with the situation said. Privately, some officials have expressed anxiety about a potential investigation and the group's Russian ties.
Even the Trump regime has acknowledged Torshin is a mobbed-up Putin flunky, leveling sanctions against him last month. Sure, the Trumpies dragged their feet long enough for the Russians to move their cash out of the US and into offshore safe havens, but the point is Torshin's on the list, and his favorite charity is the NRA.
And suddenly the NRA had $30 million to give just to Trump's campaign.
I know foreign campaign donations are pretty small potatoes compared to the rest of the wrongdoing by the Trump regime, but if it takes both Trump and the NRA out of the GOP equation in 2018 and especially 2020, I'm all for it.