NRA-Affiliated Operative Reached Out To Trump Campaign: To Pass Along Information From The Kremlin He Said He Could “Discuss in Person or on the Phone”
NRA-Affiliated Operative Makes Clear Russians Wanted Meeting with Trump During NRA Convention in Effort to Arrange Trump Visit to the Kremlin Before the November Election
NEW YORK – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the Majority’s Russia Report, accompanied by Minority Views.
STATEMENT FROM ANDREW ZUCKER, FEDERAL MEDIA RELATIONS DIRECTOR:
“We now know definitively that during the 2016 NRA convention, an NRA-affiliated operative tried to set up a back-channel meeting between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. We know that, at the very least, that outreach resulted in a conversation between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian banker who has since been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury and attracted attention from FBI investigators. What we don’t yet know: What knowledge did NRA officials have of this taking place during their annual convention? The NRA ought to do itself a favor and come clean.”
Key details from the Majority’s Russia report and Minority Views:
From the Minority Views: May 10, 2016, an NRA-affiliated operative, Paul Erickson, reached out to Rick Dearborn, a senior Trump campaign official:
“Switching hats! I’m now writing to you and Sen. Sessions in your roles as Trump foreign policy experts / advisors. […] Happenstance and the (sometimes) international reach of the NRA placed me in a position a couple of years ago to slowly begin cultivating a back-channel to President Putin’s Kremlin. Russia is quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S. that isn’t forthcoming under the current administration. And for reasons that we can discuss in person or on the phone, the Kremlin believes that the only possibility of a true re-set in this relationship would be with a new Republican White House.” (Emphasis added.)
From the Majority’s Russia report: Erickson’s outreach resulted in a “brief meeting” between Trump Jr. and a Putin ally, Alexander Torshin, who is reportedly at the center of an FBI probe into “whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump” in 2016:
“In the weeks leading up to the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) 2016 annual meeting, there were a series of emails sent to a member of the campaign discussing Russian interest in the campaign as it related to the NRA meeting. Despite the emails’ rhetoric about setting up a ‘back channel’ between the United States and Russian governments, the relevant testimony obtained in the Committee’s interviews showed these email inquiries resulted in a brief meeting between Trump Jr. and a Russian government official that centered on shooting and hunting.”
From the Minority Views: House Republicans refused to interview key witnesses, including a Putin ally, Alexander Torshin, and Torshin’s longtime aide Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist with who claimed after the 2016 election to have acted as a go-between between the Trump campaign and Russia. Butina has also been identified as a lifetime NRA member:
“The Majority refused multiple requests by the Minority to interview witnesses central to this line of inquiry, including Torshin, Butina, Erickson, and others.”
The Majority Report can be found here. The Minority Views can be found here.