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Federal Election Commission Republicans Block Probe Into Russia-NRA Ties

Russia NRA

The Republicans on the Federal Election Commission blocked all investigations into Russia’s ties to the National Rifle Association, the panel announced.

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub slammed the committee’s inaction after the panel after it deadlocked 2-2 on whether to investigate allegations that Russian operatives Alexander Torshin and Maria Butina made illegal donations to the NRA.

“FEC’s Republicans block all investigation of & enforcement against Russians Torshin & Butina re the NRA & the 2016 presidential election,” Weintraub wrote. “Result: FEC does nothing to find out the truth behind one of the most blockbuster campaign finance allegations in recent memory.”

Republican Commissioner Caroline Hunter defended the Republican members’ vote against investigating the donations. Hunter told Newsweek the group is "forbidden from investigating groups purely based on rank speculation."

"Once again, Chair Weintraub rejected the advice of the FEC's lawyers but blames her Republican colleagues. Her statement is long on conjecture and short on the evidence and the law,” Hunter said.

FEC complaint said Russians funneled money to Trump through NRA:

The FEC launched a preliminary investigation into the NRA’s ties to Russia in early 2018.

An FEC complaint filed by the American Democracy Legal Fund, the NRA is accused of funneling donations from Torshin and Butina’s group to the Trump campaign.

The NRA spent a record $30 million in the 2016 to back Trump.

The ADLF’s Brad Woodhouse told Politico the FEC had a responsibility to look at whether the NRA was “taking illegal foreign money to conduct political activity and whether money is passed on to support the campaign.”

“They would have to investigate all of those linkages to determine whether there was any illegal election activity,” he said.

Top Dem slams FEC inaction:

Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, blasted the FEC’s deadlocked vote.

"A foreign adversary interfered in the 2016 presidential election and the response from Republicans at every level, whether it be President Trump, congressional Republicans, or now the Republican appointees on the Federal Election Commission, has been to bury their heads in the sand or actively obstruct getting to the bottom of what happened," the Oregon senator told Newsweek.

"It's inexcusable that Republican commissioners would block an investigation into whether Russian money was funneled through the National Rifle Association to help President Trump," he said. "The blatant partisanship is appalling, undermines our democracy and leaves us vulnerable to continued interference in 2020."