Emails show NRA involved in planning Moscow trip: report
© Getty Images

The National Rifle Association (NRA) appeared to play a greater role in its members' supposedly unofficial trip to Russia than their public statements have indicated thus far, according to internal emails obtained by ABC News.

In the emails, NRA officials reportedly promise repayment of travel expenses for several members of an NRA delegation on a 2015 trip to Russia that press representatives for the organization have described as unofficial and not sanctioned by NRA leadership.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Wayne [LaPierre] expressed concerns about this trip and suggested that I not participate,” then-NRA President Allan Cors told The New York Times, referring to the NRA's executive vice president. “Wayne did not want any misconception that this was an official trip. Frankly, I had similar concerns.”

“When he became aware of the details of the trip, Wayne was personally opposed to it," added William Brewer, the NRA's outside counsel, in a statement to ABC News.

Emails obtained by ABC News, however, indicate that NRA members presented their Russian hosts with "gifts" provided by the organization and would have at least some of their travel expenses paid for by the NRA.

A photo of the visit shows several current and former NRA members standing next to Maria Butina, the Russian accused of trying to set up a back channel between the organization and Russia, and Alexander Torshin, a Russian politician thought to be Butina's superior. A banner displayed behind the group contains the NRA's official logo.

NRA officials did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill Friday on ABC's reporting.

Senate investigators told ABC that the organization was misleading the public by saying it had no official role in the trip.

“It’s not credible for the NRA to claim that they played no official role in the 2015 Moscow trip,” Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy Hillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech MORE (D-Ore.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told ABC News.