Last week the White House announced that it was going to release details of a new gun bill ‘very soon.’ Instead, we now learn that Trump had a meeting with Wayne-o and asked him for support against a possible impeachment in return for not pushing any new legislation about guns. Isn’t this kind of quid-pro-quo exactly what Trump did with the President of Ukraine? After all, Trump tried to extort a promise from Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden in exchange for a shipment of guns.
The White House, of course, denied that any such discussion between Trump and the NRA took place. But this report was filed by Maggie Haberman and she has never been accused of writing a story which turned out not to be true.
It’s one thing, however, to try and enlist the head of another nation-state to help your political campaign. It’s another to ask a tin-horn nobody like Wayne Lapierre to save the ship of state. After all, if the NRA is keeping itself afloat by borrowing against the life-insurance policies of its executive staff, how much clout does America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ wield these days?
Which brings us to the report just issued by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on the NRA and the Russian ‘spy’ affair. I am still convinced, and I have seen nothing to convince me otherwise, that the Russian ‘spy’ in this case, Maria Butina, was just a dopey kid running around on behalf of the Russian company, Izhmash, which makes the original AK-47 and has been trying to get a toe-hold into the American gun market for the last ten years. The American gun market is worth millions because the gun is the non plus ultra assault rifle of all time.
Wyden’s report, however, covers new territory and contains information which, if true, could really put the final ka-bosh on Wayne-o and the NRA. The 77-page report goes into great detail about a 2015 trip to Russia by several NRA Board members, including Pete Brownell, whose company makes and sells all kinds of accessories for small-arms, although the outfit does not, as has been alleged at various times, actually manufacture guns. Nevertheless, where there’s a civilian gun market, there’s a demand for gun parts, accessories and all kinds of other gun-related junk, and during the Russian trip Brownell evidently had meetings with various Russian businessmen to discuss possible commercial relationships between Russia and the USA.
Here’s what the Wyden report is all about: “The minority staff investigation confirms that members of the NRA delegation participated in the Moscow trip primarily or solely for the purpose of advancing personal business interests, rather than advancing the NRA’s tax-exempt purpose.” The whole point of holding a tax-exempt status requires the tax-exempt organization (read: NRA) to refrain from engaging in the sort of business activities which might result in personal gain for a company owned or operated by a member of the tax-exempt organization’s Board. Brownell was Vice President of the NRA when he went to Russia in 2015 (he has subsequently resigned.) Several other NRA members were specifically designated as representing the NRA on this trip, and they also met with Russian business counterparts involved in the manufacture and sale of small arms.
I think the Wyden report is much ado about nothing and is only getting some traction because it’s easy right now to dump on the NRA. Many non-profit organizations have business big-shots on their Boards and many of these big shots find it convenient, from a business perspective, to promote their own business interests while, at the same time, helping the non-profit achieve its organizational goals. The report could not cite a single instance in which any blabbing between NRA officials and anyone in Russia resulted in an exchange of money, goods or anything else.
But we’re not talking about just any non-profit, we’re talking about the organization whose support of Donald Trump is considered by many to have been what allowed El Shlump-o to grab the 2016 brass ring. Now that it’s pay-back time in DC, what otherwise might have simply been seen as ‘boys being boys’ could turn into the issue which brings the NRA curtain down.
Thanks to Tom Johnson for tipping us off about the Wyden report.