In a Tuesday column for the Washington Post, conservative Jennifer Rubin called on all GOP lawmakers to refuse to accept support and contributions from the National Rifle Association until the Justice Department is done investigating the connection between Russia and the guns-rights non-profit.
With Maria Butina, a Russian national who has been accused of illegally working as a foreign agent, being held by federal authorities without bail, Rubin made the case for every lawmaker -- Republican or Democrat -- to come clean if they have been in contact with her after she was accused of funneling money to the NRA.
"The indictment issued last week states she [Butina] worked closely with a Russian official, widely believed to be Russian Central Bank Deputy Gov. Alexander Torshin, to access and influence conservative organizations and politicians," Rubin wrote. "Voters surely are entitled to know whom she tried to influence and who, if anyone, got allegedly Torshin-laundered money."
Noting that leading Democrats are pressing for more information between Butina and the NRA, Rubin added, "Republicans — if they have clean hands and want to protect American democracy — should be chiming in to demand prompt disclosure of such information. Until we can see how much Russian money went into the NRA, where it went and with whom Torshin and Butina met, a cloud will hang over all pro-NRA candidates, which is most Republicans."
She then made the connection between Butina and the White House.
"News reports have confirmed that one of the people Torshin met with was none other than Donald Trump Jr. (Yes, the president’s son met with the man allegedly sending Butina to infiltrate GOP circles for the benefit of Russia.) She explained. "Now we should know whom else the duo met with, what was discussed and whether Torshin was able to route NRA money to sympathetic candidates."
With Rubin quoting ex-federal prosecutor Harry Litman saying, “There have been reports for years that Torshin illegally funneled money to the NRA for use in the Trump campaign, and the criminal charges against Butina lay out a thick relationship that she and Russian officials forged with the organization, and through it, various Republican political figures,” she made a demand of all candidates currently running for office.
"It is not unreasonable for all recipients of NRA money to put any NRA-related donations aside and not touch the money unless and until this is all cleared up," she insisted. "Every Republican on the ballot in November, as well as members of their staff, needs to disclose contacts with Torshin and Butina or their associates."
For good measure, she added, "NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre needs to be questioned as to whether he knew his organization was being used by a hostile foreign power, and if so, when he knew it," but warned, "Alas, all that will likely have to wait until there is a Democratic majority in one or both houses."
Getting back to recipients of NRA campaign cash, she concluded, "These people should want to divest themselves of any money they received, remove the taint of Russian influence and prevent their receipt of Russian-tainted money or meetings with Russian operatives from being used to, well, blackmail them. They should act now, before this becomes a serious campaign liability."
You can read the whole column here.