The National Rifle Association reported this week that it received more money from people with Russian ties than it has previously acknowledged, but announced that it was officially done cooperating with a congressional inquiry exploring whether illicit Kremlin-linked funding passed through the NRA and into Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said on Wednesday. Wyden released a letter from the NRA, dated Tuesday, in which the gun rights group reported receiving $2,512.85 in contributions and membership dues “from people associated with Russian addresses” or known Russian nationals living in the United States from 2015 to the present. In the past, a congressional aide to Wyden said, the group had confirmed receiving only one financial contribution, in the form of a lifetime membership purchased by Alexander Torshin, a Russian banker.
Torshin, a gun enthusiast and an associate of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, is the focus of an FBI investigation into whether any Russian money was funneled through the NRA and on to the Trump campaign, perhaps through NRA entities not required to disclose their funding sources. The Trump administration imposed stiff sanctions last week against Torshin, who has denied wrongdoing, and six other Russian oligarchs and 17 Russian government officials in response to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In its letter, NRA Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer said that none of the Russia-linked money was used for political purposes, and that the organization is “currently reviewing our responsibilities with respect to” Torshin. In response to questions from Wyden’s office, it also reported that it had not received any “significant donations from foreign nationals generally in 2015-2016,” and that no Russian nationals have participated in any of its various “major donor programs.”