Yesterday, NPR reported that in 2013, former NRA President David Keene had former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton film a video praising “a new era of freedom” in Russia and encouraging the Russian government to loosen its gun laws. The video was used in advocacy efforts by Alexander Torshin’s Russian gun rights group, the Right to Bear Arms. Alexander Torshin, who is close with Keene, is reportedly at the center of an FBI probe into “whether Russian money went to the NRA to help Trump” in 2016. At the time of the video’s release, Bolton was head of the NRA’s international affairs subcommittee.
In fact, on December 12, 2013, Russia celebrated the 20th anniversary of the signing of its constitution. To coincide with that anniversary, the Right to Bear Arms planned a rally to call for amendments to the Russian constitution to loosen the country’s gun laws. Two days before the rally, on December 10, 2013, the Right to Bear Arms posted the Bolton video to its YouTube and social media pages.
More: In the video, Bolton specifically notes the anniversary of the signing of Russia’s constitution, while calling for Russian lawmakers to loosen their gun laws. Event organizers for the Right to Bear Arms rally even posted the video to the rally’s event page.
As John Bolton prepares to take on a new job as President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, here are five questions he should have to answer:
- As head of the NRA’s international affairs subcommittee, did Bolton meet with any Russian individuals on behalf of the NRA?
- Bolton spoke at the 2011, 2012 and 2013 NRA conventions, all three of which were attended by Alexander Torshin. Has Bolton communicated with or met Torshin or Maria Butina (who helped found the Right to Bear Arms with Torshin)? If so, what is the extent of those relationships?
- Did Bolton know that the video he filmed would be used by Torshin and Butina’s Russian gun group?
- What did Bolton believe to be the purpose of the video he filmed?
- What does Bolton know about Torshin and Butina’s outreach to the NRA? Does anything concern him about their relationship with the NRA?