How Much of the NRA's Money Funding Republicans Came from Russia?

For some time now, we've known about the NRA's documented ties to the Kremlin and the distinct possibility that the NRA illegally filtered dark money from Russia to the Trump campaign.

Today at McClatchy, Peter Stone and Greg Gordon have an important report on how, as part of the Justice Department investigation into whether the NRA filtered Russian money to Trump's 2016 campaign, "Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin's inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to photographs and an NRA source. ...It is a crime, potentially punishable with prison time, to donate or use foreign money in U.S. election campaigns."
The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid.

...The NRA, Trump's biggest financial backer, spent more than $30 million to boost his upstart candidacy; that's more than double what it laid out for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and the NRA money started flowing much earlier in the cycle for Trump.

...The NRA reported spending $24.4 million to back Republican candidates for Congress in 2016.

...Of the $30 million the NRA reported spending to support Trump, more than $21 million was spent by its lobbying arm, whose donors are not publicly reported.

Two NRA insiders say that overall, the group spent at least $70 million, including resources devoted to field operations and online advertising, which are not required to be publicly reported.
At least $70 million just on Trump's campaign, part of an extraordinary output of cash on behalf of Republicans in federal races across the country.

That's a lot of dark money.

There has been a lot of public musing about how owned by Russia average GOP congress members are. Well, we know that they're owned by the NRA. The question we need to be asking at this point is: Are they, in fact, owned by Russia via the NRA?

* * *

It's not only the NRA about which we need to be asking these questions, either.
Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia's defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia's largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin.

...Rudov's career has kept him on a lower-profile trajectory running a conservative religious charity, the St. Basil's the Great Charitable Foundation. St. Basil's chairman and founder is Putin ally and Orthodox Church figure Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian billionaire sanctioned in 2014 by the U.S. Treasury Department because of his support for Russian-backed separatists who invaded Crimea early that year. Carpenter said Malofeev's foundation is used to support his various causes, which have included financing mercenaries who forcibly wrested control of eastern Ukraine from the Kiev government.
Sounds like someone who would have been in Paul Manafort's orbit. And who in the United States is situated precisely at the intersection of Trump's Russian collusion, conservative gun fetishists, and ultra-nationalist religiosity?

Manafort's hand-picked veep, Mike Pence.

If Russian moneymen are laundering money through white conservative evangelical Christian groups in the U.S., just as they're seemingly laundering money through the NRA, no one was better positioned to officiate that hideous marriage than Pence.

And suddenly the reasons why Manafort wanted Pence become even clearer.

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