As President Trump spoke to the NRA's national convention on Friday, today has turned into what is almost certainly the beginning of the end of the organization as the leadership has spiraled out of control and New York state is opening a fraud investigation.
National Rifle Association leader Oliver North announced Saturday that he will not seek a second term as president of the gun rights group, as is customary.
The decision plunged the organization into chaos ahead of a board meeting on Monday and sparked debate among NRA members over a resolution on whether to oust Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre.
North's decision to step aside from his leadership role comes amid infighting within the group and follows a number of articles from The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times detailing allegations of financial mismanagement by senior NRA officials.
"The current situation," North wrote in a letter to the NRA's membership, means that the organization's "non-profit status is threatened."
Even as the NRA struggled to handle its internal divisions, an external threat emerged this weekend in the form of a new investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
"The Office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James has launched an investigation related to the National Rifle Association (NRA)," a spokesperson for the attorney general told NPR. "As part of this investigation, the Attorney General has issued subpoenas. We will not have further comment at this time."
The NRA has received a document preservation notice in connection with the investigation being undertaken by the New York attorney general, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The NRA responded to the announcement of the investigation by pledging its cooperation.
"The NRA will fully cooperate with any inquiry into its finances," said William A. Brewer III, an outside lawyer for the NRA. "The NRA is prepared for this, and has full confidence in its accounting practices and commitment to good governance."
North's announcement on Saturday shocked the hundreds of NRA members and donors gathered at the NRA annual meeting in Indianapolis — the news was met with absolute silence.
Following the announcement, rank-and-file NRA members proposed a resolution holding LaPierre accountable for the allegations of financial mismanagement within the organization and calling for him to step down.
The resolution was ultimately defeated, but not before a passionate debate broke out among members — with escalating rhetoric. Some members demanded information on the allegations of financial impropriety. Others suggested that because of ongoing litigation, the matter should not be debated in public. At one point, one NRA member compared the resolution to an attempted hanging of LaPierre.
North — who is perhaps best known for his role in the Reagan-era Iran-Contra affair — was expected to join Saturday's meeting himself, but his chair onstage was empty.
"Please know I hoped to be with you today as NRA president, endorsed for reelection," North wrote in a letter, read aloud to the NRA membership by NRA First Vice President Richard Childress. "I am now informed that that will not happen."
The NRA is falling apart and I couldn't be happier.
It'll be replaced by another organization, or it will rebrand itself. and move on, but it will be permanently damaged and frankly I'm hoping Wayne LaPierre and his friends go to prison. These guys funneled millions illegally to Trump, and more than a bit of it came from Russia.
These guys are crooked as hell and need to burn for it.