A 2015 trip to Russia by a delegation from the National Rifle Association, arguably Donald Trump’s most powerful ally in the 2016 election, raises new questions about Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin. This time, Fox’s favorite sheriff (and Trump supporter) David Clarke is involved.
In 2015, an NRA delegation, including Clarke, met with Dmitry Rogozin who, besides serving as chairman of the Russian Shooting Federation, is also the head of Russia’s defense industry in Moscow. The meeting occurred after Rogozin had been sanctioned by the U.S. As The Daily Beast explained in a lengthy article, that was not illegal. However, it certainly raises questions. Emphases added to the excerpts below:
But Rogozin is no ordinary Russian official, and his title extends far beyond being merely the chairman of a shooting club. His portfolio as deputy prime minister of Russia includes the defense industry. One issue where Rogozin seems particularly interested is cyberwarfare, which he has heralded for its “first strike” capability. And he’s well-known in Russia for being a radical—often taking a harder line than Putin himself.
Rogozin was the leader of the ultra-right party called Rodina, or Motherland, and famously believes in the restoration of the Russian Empire, including what he calls “Russian America” (i.e., Alaska).
The trip was sponsored at least in part by the organization, The Right to Bear Arms, a firearms advocacy organization founded by Russian national Maria Butina, a former Siberian furniture store owner who now lives in Washington, D.C., and serves as a link between Russian political circles and the American capital’s conservative elite.
It is unclear where Butina’s firearms advocacy organization gets her money—it is a puzzling group, considering that Russia does not have a large grassroots movement for gun rights like the United States does.
Butina does, however, have a close relationship with Alexander Torshin, the former deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who has been accused by Spanish authorities of laundering money for the Russian mob. Neither Butina and Torshin responded to requests for comment.
The Daily Beast notes that Clarke’s disclosure forms revealed Butina’s organization paid “$6,000 for his meals, hotel, transportation, and excursions during his time in Russia.” That did not include the $12,000 in airfare paid by an NRA board member. According to Clarke’s disclosure forms, he was in Russia from December 8-13.
In other words, spending $6,000 in six days means Clarke’s creature comforts were well taken care of.
Again, there’s nothing illegal about this. And I'm not saying there's even anything untoward. But with so many murky Trump-Russia connections, it's another element of the Trump-Russia mystery that remains almost completely unsolved.
Originally published at Newshounds.us