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  • An NRA source just admitted that NRA representatives met with Putin’s inner circle during the 2016 campaign

    NRATV called the Russia investigation a lie, even as there is an FBI investigation into whether the Russian government used the NRA to illegally funnel money to support Trump

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE

    We already knew, thanks to previous reporting and a Senate Judiciary Committee report, that the Russian government may have used the NRA to aid Trump’s campaign in 2016. And per previous reporting from McClatchy, the FBI is investigating whether Russian banker and NRA member Alexander Torshin used the NRA to illegally funnel money to support Trump's election. 

    Now, a new McClatchy story cites an NRA source to confirm that high-level meetings took place between members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and NRA representatives during the election:

    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.

    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.

    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.

    The Russians talked and dined with NRA representatives, mainly in Moscow, as U.S. presidential candidates vied for the White House. Now U.S. investigators want to know if relationships between the Russian leaders and the nation’s largest gun rights group went beyond vodka toasts and gun factory tours, evolving into another facet of the Kremlin’s broad election-interference operation.

    Even as the contacts took place, Kremlin cyber operatives were secretly hacking top Democrats’ emails and barraging Americans’ social media accounts with fake news stories aimed at damaging the image of Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton and boosting the prospects of Republican Donald Trump.

    NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch dismissed the reporting as old news:

    While NRATV has largely avoided mentioning Russia, contributor Dan Bongino has been railing against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. On Fox & Friends in May, he called the Russia investigation “an obvious frame job.” On a June 2 Fox & Friends Saturday appearance, Bongino blasted the investigation as a “total scam,” leading to a Trump tweet on the matter quoting him.

    On June 4, jumping off that Trump tweet, Bongino went on a wild rant on his NRATV program, complaining that the entire Russia investigation was fake and that he had spent six months studying the matter for a book he is working on. He even argued, referring to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, that going through non-official channels implies guilt -- which is incredible as an investigation is looking at the possibility that the NRA was used by a foreign government to illegally intervene in an American presidential election.

    Here’s the entire rant:

    The whole thing’s a scam, folks. This Russia investigation’s a scam. So, the president must have saw it, tweeted out the comments, which I always appreciate, but I meant it. I meant every word of it.

    This is a scam. The whole thing is a scam and the entire story is falling apart. I have some incredible sound here I’m going to play in a minute, and video, from Congressman Devin Nunes [(R-CA)], who’s been doing an unbelievable job uncovering the scam that this whole Russia thing has been. But before I play it I just want to set you up what we’re talking about here.

    Folks, the media cannot agree on a story how the darn investigation started, because the investigation’s crap -- it's garbage. The reason they can’t cite to you what paragraph one of this investigation reads -- in other words, at this time, at this place, this happened, and therefore we investigated Donald Trump -- is because no one can explain why it started, because it started for political, not law enforcement or counterintelligence, reasons. We were told initially that the case started because of a guy named Carter Page, who went to Russia; we now found out that a lot of that information contained in that dossier was false. The media narrative then changed to, “Oh, it was a meeting between Alexander Downer and a guy named George Papadopoulos working for the Trump team where some information about Russian emails were exchanged.” I’m going to get to Nunes in a second. Now that narrative is falling apart. The media is now trying to change the narrative again -- to, “Well, no, it started when a spy interacted with the Trump team and the British gave us information on the Trump team as early as 2015,” which begs the very simple question, if you knew about Russians trying to involve themselves in our election back in 2015, why the hell didn’t you do anything about it? Fair question? Heh? Kinda? Sorta?

    Well, with regards to story number two, because again there’s four or five different iterations about how the FBI started this case, none of which make any sense. On story number two, about a low-level Trump operative by the name of George Papadopoulos interacting with an Australian in London, an Australian diplomat by the name of Alexander Downer, and exchanging some information about the Russians having emails on Hillary, the FBI says, “Oh well we had to investigate, look at that,” and the Democrats will parrot that line. Here’s Devin Nunes again debunking critical elements of story number two.

    That liberals still defend this, right, and they just don’t take a bath on it and just come out and admit at this point that this whole thing’s been a scam, is beyond perplexing to me. It’s dragging them down at the polls. It’s obviously a scam. They obviously have no evidence of any Russian collusion at all, and yet they continue -- it reminds me of a shirt I saw once at Six Flags Great Adventure New Jersey, remember that? Was that exit 7a or something? The shirt said “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” How -- are you going to continue to smash your head against the desk, liberals, with this dopey case? Nothing you’ve said is true. Nothing. The whole case is a fabrication.

    There are two critical takeaways from that commentary by Devin Nunes on Maria Bartiromo’s show (again hat tip Fox News there). Two points. Number one, he brings up again how this information supposedly that was so devastating about a Trump team member who mentioned something about emails, he mentions again how it was passed through non-official channels. Folks, why would you do that? Why would you do that? What movie is that from? Anybody in this studio know? Denise, who’s our pop culture guy? Why would you do that? That’s from a movie. That’s going to drive me crazy the whole time. Why would you pass the information through non-official channels? You would pass it through non-official channels because if it went through official intelligence channels and it was fake, it would be exposed as fake. This isn’t hard. There’s a reason they went through political channels with what they deemed to be counterintelligence and intelligence information, because if they passed it through official intelligence channels, it would have been laughed at as garbage.

    There’s another takeaway from that, not specifically mentioned in the piece but that’s been breaking about this Downer piece. Remember, Downer’s the Australian diplomat who allegedly dealt with this Trump kid on the Trump team who had information about the emails. Now Downer himself is saying, ”Well, the Trump team member never mentioned anything about emails.” Folks, is anything about this story true? Anything? The answer is no. Nothing about this story’s true. You’re being worked, as I said in the tweet.

    All right, let me move on, because this is going to drive me crazy. I could talk about this all day, but just trust me on this. I’m putting a book together on this -- it’s been my entire life for the last six months.

    There is not a single critical fact in this case that the liberals, the swamp rat Republicans, and the people advocating for this Trump/Russia collusion fairy tale, not a single critical fact that has turned out to be true. Not one. It is garbage.

  • NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch blames ATF for not regulating gun sellers. The NRA sponsored a law that makes it harder for them to do that.

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch cited reporting about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) low penalty rate for firearms dealers who have violated the law, to disingenuously attack getting “the government involved,” because it’s not “doing their job.” But, Loesch ignored that the NRA championed a law that restricts the ATF's ability to regulate the sale of firearms and makes it extremely difficult for the bureau to take action against non-compliant arms dealers.

    During the June 4 edition of her NRATV program Relentless, Loesch pointed to a June 3 New York Times article reporting that there were “11,000 inspections of licensed firearm dealers in the year starting in October 2016” and “more than half were cited for violations” but “less than 1 percent” actually lost their licenses. Loesch said these violations “should have resulted in actions by the agency” and that the government, which is “tasked with protecting innocents,” is “ultimately [falling] short of doing that job”:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): We’re told over and over that the solutions to all of the problems related to all forms of violence is to ban all of the things and to get the government involved. In fact, one of the favorite pastimes of the progressive left is to claim that they don’t want to repeal the Second Amendment, they just want the quote, unquote “universal background checks,” or to make sure gun sellers are held accountable for breaking the law.

    ...

    LOESCH: All of these solutions depend on the government doing its job, but the problem is that they aren’t doing their job. The New York Times is reporting that the ATF, quote, “regularly find violations of the law, ranging from minor record-keeping errors to illegal sales of firearms.” But the ATF rarely does anything about it or at least does very little. According to this report, out of the 11,000 inspections of firearms dealers, more than half had violations that should have resulted in actions by the agency but in the end, less than 1 percent resulted in any real serious consequences like a loss of a license. Combine this with the failures of the FBI to follow up on leads or federal bureaucracies that have failed to, in any way, communicate with one another in order to prevent a prohibited possessor from purchasing a firearm, as happened in Sutherland Springs, as happened in Charleston, the same disturbing picture that we saw unfold in Parkland appears. A government, tasked with protecting innocents yet preventing us from protecting ourselves, and then they ultimately fall short of doing that job.

    While the Times article claimed that many ATF “supervisors downgraded recommendations that the stores’ licenses be revoked,” it also noted the bureau is tasked with proving “that store owners not only violated the law but intended to do so,” which dealers “would almost certainly appeal.”

    Loesch neglected to mention that the NRA actively supported the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act, which mandated that the ATF prove a firearms dealer is “willfully” breaking the law when selling to a prohibited person, limited the agency to inspecting over 135,000 active federal firearms licensees once a year, and mandated that the bureau reduce the penalty for inadequate records of firearms acquisition and sale from a felony to a misdemeanor.

    On the nearly 25th anniversary of the 1986 law, NRA-Institute For Legislative Action, the NRA’s lobbying arm, cheered the passing of the bill as the moment “the gun rights movement really came into its own” and “NRA-ILA and other pro-gun groups … earned their spurs.”  

  • Don’t believe anything NRATV says

    The National Rifle Association's media outlet sent a pro-censorship message on social media and then went ballistic when people called it pro-censorship

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s media operation, caused a stir on Twitter Thursday afternoon after sending a tweet that read, “It's time to put an end to this glorification of carnage in pursuit of ratings because it's killing our kids. It's time for Congress to step up and pass legislation putting common sense limitations on #MSM's ability to report on these school shootings."

    The tweet immediately generated outrage, which is understandable given that it appeared NRATV was promoting the notion that Congress ought to limit how the press can report on gun violence. NRATV, however, had taken itself out of context. The tweet was promoting a video narrated by NRATV host Colion Noir that ultimately concluded that such action by Congress would be wrong.

    Viewers could be forgiven for not sitting through the four-minute video given its painfully bad logic. It essentially equated Congress passing a law to limit how the press could cover shootings to Congress passing a law that regulates gun ownership. This is of course nonsensical given that rights protected by the Constitution are regulated in different ways, something that Noir, a law school graduate, should know.

    Prohibiting the press from reporting on shootings would constitute prior restraint, which would violate the First Amendment. Regulations on firearms, however, are typically permissible under the Second Amendment.

    The 2008 landmark Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller found that the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding individuals to have a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense. The ruling means that total gun bans are unconstitutional. However, many other regulations are permissible. As Heller’s majority opinion, written by conservative Antonin Scalia, stated, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

    Federal courts have repeatedly upheld laws banning assault weapons, for example. According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “courts across the country have rejected the overwhelming majority of Second Amendment challenges initiated since Heller,” finding that myriad regulations comport with the Second Amendment right.

    This is all unimportant to NRATV, which crowed about the controversy and was clearly pleased with the result of its dishonest ploy. Noir wrote on Twitter, “I hate to humble brag but My recent  video just exposed how our mainstream media refuses to watch a 4min video in its entirety before reporting on it and pushing their agenda.” Apparently without irony -- given that NRATV took itself out of context -- NRATV’s Twitter account promoted a tweet from The Washington Times that read, “NRATV host Colion Noir enraged critics on Thursday who were eager to use an out-of-context tweet on de facto media control as a serious argument.” During the May 25 broadcast of NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield said of the media, “We here at NRATV set a trap, and they got caught,” adding that it "borderlines on criminality when it comes to the way they abuse the First Amendment."

    Promoting obviously false information is a tactic at NRATV, which has fabricated congressional testimony during its broadcasts to attack its political opponents and even once quoted a satire article published by the NRA’s magazine that was clearly labeled “fiction” as if it were serious in order to encourage people to vote for Donald Trump on Election Day.

    Chillingly, NRATV has actually supported anti-First Amendment measures as part of its pro-Trump efforts, particularly when it comes to the freedom of the press and the right to assemble. While branding itself as a news source, NRATV clearly does not act in good faith and should be thought of less as a legitimate journalism operation than as a propaganda outlet.

  • In new video, NRATV blames "moronic media" for turning mass shooters into rock stars

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Just days after a shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, TX, NRATV released a video blaming the media and “our culture” for causing mass shootings by routinely turning the gunmen into “rock star[s].”

    On May 18, a 17-year-old student opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas, killing 10 and wounding 13 with his father’s legally owned shotgun and a .38 revolver. This is the 22nd school shooting this year in the United States and comes just three months after the Parkland high school shooting that left 17 dead and 17 injured. 

    The Santa Fe shooter reportedly told police officers he targeted the students he didn’t like and spared those he did. The mother of one of the victims said her 16-year-old daughter faced “four months of problems from this boy” as he kept “making advances on her.” She said her daughter had stood up to him in class a week before the shooting. 

    Despite this emerging picture of the Santa Fe gunman’s motive, NRATV released a video in which host Colion Noir blamed media for the increase in school shootings, claiming reporters turn the shooter “into a damn rock star within hours of the damn shooting.” Noir went on to criticize supposedly liberal phenomena including “safe spaces” and “participation trophies incentivizing mediocrity,” saying that we “tell our young boys that their masculinity is toxic, and our young girls that being a woman means acting like a man, further confusing the hell out of kids”:  

    COLION NOIR (NRATV HOST): So, when are we going to be completely honest and acknowledge the awkward, bullied, sexually frustrated, psychotropic drug-laced, suicidal, mass shooters in the room for what they are? Or are we just going to keep acting like we don't know what's going on in the name of not confronting the miserable reality that they are a creation of our so-called progressive culture and media?

    [...]

    Yet our moronic media in their blind pursuit for ratings will post every picture they can find of the shooter and repeat the shooters's name habitually, turning the kid into a damn rock star within hours of the damn shooting and they will keep asking why these shootings keep happening in a country obsessed with celebrity culture raising a generation of kids with an inability to cope with anything.

    [...]

    Instead of teaching our kids how to cope with the harsh realities of life, we shield them in safe spaces and give them participation trophies incentivizing mediocrity and tell our young boys that their masculinity is toxic, and our young girls that being a woman means acting like a man further confusing the hell out of kids who are naturally going to struggle with their identity as is. Anyone screaming for gun control in response to this last shooting is just not being honest with themselves. The kid used a shotgun and a revolver that he took from his parents because he wasn't old enough to buy a gun legally. Ask yourself, what is more likely a reason this latest killer decided to secretly build improvised explosives in order to murder his classmates in cold blood, "loose" gun laws or our culture?

    The NRATV host made similar comments after the Parkland school shooting and taunted the student activists by saying he wished an armed guard had been there to stop the shooting because “your classmates would still be alive, and no one would know your names.”

    This followed his 2016 tweet after the Pulse nightclub shooting that attacked calls for stronger gun laws, and his 2015 warning to the parents of slain Virginia journalist Alison Parker to not become “so emotional” that they channel their “grief-inspired advocacy” to the wrong effect.

  • Violence against women is a guns issue, but not the way the NRA wants you to believe

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    After multiple reports of physical abuse came out against former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the National Rifle Association’s media arm, NRATV, used the reports to falsely claim the solution to violence against women is more  gun ownership. In reality, the presence of firearms in households where there is domestic violence drastically increases the likelihood that women who live there will be killed or injured.

    A May 7 New Yorker article reported that four women say Schneiderman committed “nonconsensual physical violence” against them. According to the article, he “repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent,” as well as choked them. Just hours after the story broke, Schneiderman announced his resignation.

    NRATV wasted no time using Schneiderman’s reported abuse of women as a pretext to slam gun regulation and push for female gun ownership as a means of defense against sexual assault and domestic violence. During the May 8 edition of her NRATV show Relentless, NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch claimed that Schneiderman’s views on gun regulation were motivated by his abusive behavior, saying, “Let’s not forget that Schneiderman just hates lawful gun ownership. Hearing these stories about him it’s no wonder why. The last thing human filth like this would want is for a woman to be in a position to defend herself.”

    The next day on NRATV’s news show Stinchfield, Loesch said that it was “fitting that Eric Schneiderman is also anti-gun because predators such as men like him, they don’t like for their victims to be armed” and claimed that abusers are usually “far-left individuals who want women to remain victims and are absolutely aghast when women speak about their right to defend themselves”:  

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): I am tired of using the word hypocrisy over and over again for just about everything the left does, but once again here we are. I don’t know how else to describe it.

    DANA LOESCH: Well, it seems fitting that Eric Schneiderman is also anti-gun because predators such as men like him, they don’t like for their victims to be armed.

    [...]

    People like Eric Schneiderman and Harvey Weinsteins of the world -- he apparently was the Harvey Weinstein of New York politics -- these individuals, more often than not, they are far-left individuals who want women to remain victims and are absolutely aghast when women speak about their right to defend themselves or do anything else that would be in anyway considered self-empowerment. So I’m not surprised. I think hypocrites should feel the double force of the law, personally.     

    In actuality, there is a mountain of evidence that the presence of a firearm makes domestic violence situations more dangerous. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.” One study found that among women living in the United States, “about 4.5 million have had an intimate partner threaten them with a gun and nearly 1 million have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.” Another study that interviewed women at women’s shelters found that 71 percent of women who reported living in a household with a firearm had been attacked or threatened with a gun, but only 7 percent had successfully used a gun in self-defense. In fact, a September 2013 Violence Policy Center study titled "When Men Murder Women" found that women were more than three times more likely to be murdered when there was a gun in their household.  

    According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.” On average, three or more women are murdered by their husbands and boyfriends every day. And one in four women have been the victim of severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime -- that's roughly 40 million women. The issue also disproportionately impacts women of color.   

    While the NRA continues to dangerously advocate for greater firearm ownership as a solution to violence against women, it has also historically fought efforts to strengthen laws to keep domestic abusers from accessing guns. The group also spent more than $30 million in support of President Donald Trump’s campaign and stood by him when a tape emerged of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. The organization used its NRATV platform to shill for Trump while accusations of sexual misconduct mounted against him, including pushing the claim that such reports were getting too much attention in the press.