NRA Didn't Use Any Dirty Russian Money In 2016 Election ... Oh You Mean THAT Dirty Russian Money?
Just Trump making mouth love to the NRA, like he does.
We've had several posts lately on the weird, maybe-legal-maybe-not role the NRA played in the 2016 election. We know there are weird wealthy Russians like this guy Alexander Torshin who are OBSESSED with the NRA. We know the NRA, and said Russian (and his friends), have sucked up to Trump's ass since Day One. We know there's a bizarre Russian gunhumper group called the Right To Bear Arms, started by a young Russian woman named Maria Butina, who has Trump campaign ties, and ties to Torshin, and is probably a spy of some sort, and the group is endorsed by none other than incoming national security adviser John Bolton.
But what about the money? All those bazillions of dollars the NRA receives in donations, especially those from dirty foreign Russians ... did any of that get laundered through the NRA and into the Trump campaign? Robert Mueller and the FBI have been Just Wondering! (And investigating, as they are wont to do.) You see, that Torshin dude is the "deputy director of Russia's central bank," as McClatchy explains, and he totally plays Bunco with Vladimir Putin. (We do not know if they have Bunco in Russia, but if they do, we imagine it involves murder.) Also, he is a big money-laundering mafia-type criminal, ALLEGEDLY, according to the Spaniards, who are investigating him for money laundering right now.
McClatchy reports that the NRA spent $55 million on the 2016 elections, $30 million of that for Trump, most of which came out of a wang of the NRA that doesn't have to say where the money came from. There is news about that money, and it comes from a curious letter from the NRA in response to an earlier letter from Senator Ron Wyden, about how the NRA sure enough does take foreign donations, but NO WAY NO HOW did it use that money on elections, because that would be naughty.
Let's look at a segment of the letter:
Does the NRA take direct foreign money donations into its Political Victory Fund account? NO WAY, BORIS. Does the NRA take money from foreigns in other circumstances? YOU BET, but definitely not for elections. Do you ever transfer money from account to account? Um, well, technically, if by transfer money from account to account, you mean that thing where you go on the bank website and say "transfer this much money from this one account into this other account." BUT THAT'S ALL.
What's the word we're thinking of right now?
Oh yes, that's the one! We always hear it in "pro-life" arguments about how the government really does pay for Planned Parenthood abortions, because money is fungible.
Talking Points Memo talked to A Expert about this NRA folderol:
“Even if the NRA segregated the foreign money that it received, money is fungible,” Brendan Fischer, a campaign finance expert at the Campaign Legal Center, told TPM. “Foreign money in one account frees up money that can be used for elections in another account.”
“This is a very carefully worded letter that appears designed to give the impression that the NRA does not take foreign money for its election work, but reading between the lines, it does not actually say that,” Fischer added. “The NRA said it did not receive foreign money in connection with the U.S. election. It does not say that foreign money was not used in a U.S. election.”
Now, does this mean this set-up is completely illegal? Eh, maybe not, according to TPM's experts, if the NRA is dotting its T's and crossing its I's. (And, to be clear, if the NRA follows legal guidelines as well as Planned Parenthood does, we'd feel a li'l bit hypocritical to slam the NRA on that specific charge. Of course, with the NRA we are dealing with election law, whereas with Planned Parenthood, we're talking about amendments that prohibit federal funds going to abortion, amendments that are very fucking stupid and should be repealed. BUT WE DIGRESS.)
However, if, say, Robert Mueller were to find weird transactions where Alexander Torshin or some other Russian entity funneled a certain amount in to the NRA, which was then funneled to another account, and then put in a big funnel and dumped right in Donald Trump's butthole, then they could be in a shitheap of trouble, especially if Mueller has already done BUT HER EMAILS to the NRA.
So! Are all your questions answered? No?
Ours neither. And neither are Ron Wyden's, as the senator has sent yet another letter to the NRA, asking that it PLEASE 'SPLAIN.
Betcha Robert Mueller has a pretty good idea what's going on, though.
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