The National Rifle Association’s spokeswoman Dana Loesch denied that the organization had either received any significant money from Russia, or funneled that money into the Republican Party, in an exchange with this reporter on Twitter.
Ms. Loesch had gone on NRA TV to pour scorn on Claude Taylor, the Democratic activist whose ‘Mad Dog Pac’ funds billboards that counter Republican collusion with the Russian state. The PAC is among the first in American history to be founded and funded by ordinary people. Mr. Taylor is not a rich man; rather, he is a freelance photographer who volunteered at the Clinton White House and who, since 2017, has reported on Russia and Trump as a citizen journalist; I have co-authored three stories with him on Patribotics. Taylor and I broke the news that Donald Trump was under a sealed indictment last spring.
After Ms. Loesch broadcast on NRA TV that Claude Taylor had named Mad Dog Pac after an alcoholic drink he has never heard of, I told her that Taylor had actually named the PAC for General Mattis, the non-partisan Marine Corps legend whose nickname is ‘Mad Dog’. Mr. Mattis is the Secretary of Defense under Donald Trump, and was reportedly considered by the Hillary Clinton campaign as a Vice President.
Loesch then engaged me in a series of tweets which I reproduce below. Substantively, she denied outright that the National Rifle Association had received any money at all from Russia, aside from, as she put it, “$2500 in expat dues“.
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She also denied that the NRA had sponsored Sheriff Dave Clarke’s trip to Moscow, taken in December of 2015.
On April 17th, the NRA admitted to a handful of Russian contributors but stated the amount received totaled only $2500. Ten days later, CNN reported that the organization was “bracing for an investigation” over its funding via the Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin, and was preserving documents. In January of this year, McClatchy DC’s widely respected national security reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon said the FBI was investigating whether Torshin laundered Russian money through the NRA to assist Donald Trump and Republican candidates:
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.
The NRA trebled its support to Trump and Republicans in the last cycle versus to Mitt Romney in the prior Presidential cycle. The total of $55m it donated was given “by an arm of the NRA not required to disclose its donors”, Stone and Gordon reported.
Ms. Loesch also denied that the NRA’s delegation to Moscow, which included Dave Clarke, was “official”. The trip was funded by Russia’s state propaganda channel Russia Today, since required to register as agents of the Russian state under FARA by the DOJ. It included senior officials from the NRA and took place at the same time as General Mike Flynn and Jill Stein’s dinner with Putin. The NY Daily News reported:
Torshin is a longtime associate of the group and attended annual meetings for years, including its 2016 convention where he met with Trump Jr. and reportedly tried to set up a meeting with the candidate himself.
He also has his own Russian gun rights group and met with a delegation from the pro-gun lobbying group in late 2015, a party that included Trump-supporting former sheriff David Clarke.
The trip, which included meetings with a host of Russian government and business figures, coincided with former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s own trip to Moscow, which was paid for by state broadcaster RT.
Ms. Loesch’s exchange with me is reproduced below:
The conversation continued:
LM: Oh please, Dana. You stopped caring about defending Constitutional rights when you sold the US government to the highest bidder; the Kremlin. Tell us, if Russia is so strict and oppressive with guns, why did you take so much of their money and launder it into the GOP,
DL: I didn’t, and you’re a ridiculous, discredited person who, to my amusement, quotes fabricated, disproven accusations from a Kremlin-aligned firm hired by Clinton to push oppo. Stay crazy.
You anti-gun folks sure are super sensitive and violent.
LM: I’m not anti-gun, in the right hands. I’m anti-traitor.
DL: You’re anti-gun.
LM: If you are referring to Christopher Steele, you can say his name; his work seems to have got you triggered. Can you tell us if
@NRA received Russian money and instructions from @DeripaskaOleg on @SheriffClarke‘s trip to Moscow, which you funded?
DL: You’re the one terribly triggered, all because of a few seconds of my commentary. I certainly was effective! I answered your question, but it wasn’t what you wanted to hear ¯\_( ツ)_/¯
LM: Dana, you’re a spokeswoman for
@NRA. When we ask why “you” laundered money into the @GOP from Russia, we are asking about the NRA. I’m asking you in your professional capacity as their spokeswoman. You’re denying it for yourself? I asked about @NRA. Answer the question, ma’am
DL: I answered several Tweets ago. Learn to read, ma’am. Again, it wasn’t what you wanted to hear so pretend it wasn’t answered. So triggered.
LM: No ma’am, I asked if the NRA laundered money and you said “I didn’t”. Nobody asked if you personally did. Did the National Rifle Association – not you personally – launder Russian money into the GOP? Answer the question. Ducking it is unbecoming to a markswoman.
DL: My answer wasn’t just for me. Are you one of those redacted names Fusion paid to push their Kremlin-sourced smears? I’ve always wondered …
LM: Chris Steele isn’t Fusion. His firm is called Orbis Business Intelligence. So you deny the
@NRA washed Russian money into @GOP? Thanks for the answer, that’s on the record. PS: The NRA seem scared of MI6. That’s probably wise. #TrumpRussia
DL: You deny that Fusion hired Steele? Or that he was later paid by a Feinstein staffer?
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