FEC Investigating If Russia Used NRA To Funnel To Money To Trump

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the NRA.Screengrab/NRA/YouTube

The Federal Election Commission is investigating whether Russians made illegal donations to Trump via the NRA.

Following media reports of a potential link between the National Rifle Association and Russian entities, as well as a request by the American Democracy Legal Fund to investigate, the Federal Election Commission is looking into whether Russian money was illegally funneled through the NRA in an effort to support the Trump campaign.

The investigation is currently in its preliminary stage, with the NRA likely facing demands for internal documents and financial records relating to campaign contributions. The FEC's next steps -- potentially including a formal investigation -- will be determined by the information obtained.

The preliminary investigation focuses on issues similar to those raised recently by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, as part of his investigation into possible collusion between the NRA, the Trump campaign and Russia.

Wyden is particularly interested in whether Russian-backed entities helped the Trump campaign by funneling contributions to the gun-rights group that “inappropriately and illegally influenced our election,” according to a Feb. 2 letter Wyden sent to the NRA.

Wyden had requested “all documents related to any remuneration, transaction, or contribution” between Russia and the NRA, including “real estate ownership documentation", but in its response the NRA simply denied wrongdoing.

The FEC has neither confirmed nor denied the preliminary probe, and the NRA declined to comment on the investigation.

But according to Slate, the American Democracy Legal Fund was notified that an investigation was initiated:

[T]he treasurer of the American Democracy Legal Fund said he received confirmation that the preliminary investigation had been launched. If the investigators find compelling evidence to suggest wrongdoing the FEC could possibly refer any findings to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.