President Donald Trump, who likely owes much of his 2016 victory to the National Rifle Association, came to the defense of the embattled organization Tuesday with an early morning twitter statement about NRA’s current troubles with the State of New York, where the organization is incorporated.
“People are fleeing New York like never before,” the president’s message said. “If they own a business, they are twice as likely to flee. And if they are a victim of harassment by the A.G. of the state, like what they are doing to our great NRA, which I think will move quickly to Texas, where they are loved…..”
NRA spent tens of millions of dollars to help get Trump elected. The group energized members in key states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida to hand a surprise defeat to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The allegation that New York Attorney General Letitia James is harassing the NRA with an investigation that began earlier this year might gain plenty of traction among faithful members whose support for NRA and LaPierre is unwavering. LaPierre has become an icon and the most visible face of the gun rights movement for nearly three decades.
People are fleeing New York like never before. If they own a business, they are twice as likely to flee. And if they are a victim of harassment by the A.G. of the state, like what they are doing to our great NRA, which I think will move quickly to Texas, where they are loved…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2019
However, reports of internal troubles at the NRA beginning with what has been described as an “attempted coup” to force out Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre that included the departure of retired Marine Lt. Col. Ollie North as the group’s president during the Indianapolis convention have also gotten members’ attention. Allegations of lavish spending, an ongoing legal battle between NRA and longtime PR vendor Ackerman McQueen (Ack-Mac) and the recent departure of chief lobbyist Chris Cox have created turmoil. Add to that the apparent demise of NRA-TV, which was an Ack-Mac creation, have added to the appearance of big trouble within the 5-million-member association. There are reports of low staff morale and uncertainty about NRA’s future, but NRA President Carolyn Meadows has reportedly stated that LaPierre has the full support of the Board of Directors and that “everything is on track.”
However, in mid-May, just weeks after the annual members’ meeting and convention, Allen West, an NRA board member and former congressman urged LaPierre to step down, as noted by The Hill.
Ammoland on Monday published an anonymous analysis of the situation that appears to be the work of an insider. It has also been circulating on social media.
NRA’s internal strife is only half the story. The other half is the association’s war with the State of New York. NRA sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year after he allegedly tried to turn financial institutions against the rights group, while the James investigation is viewed by many to be little more than a “witch hunt.”
The president followed up on his tweet with a suggestion that NRA may “move quickly to Texas, where they are loved.”
“Texas will defend them & indemnify them against political harassment by New York State and Governor Cuomo,” President Trump wrote. “So many people are leaving New York for Texas and Florida that it is totally under siege.”
Trump has appeared at the past three NRA conventions, during the group’s annual Friday afternoon Leadership Forum that traditionally kicks off the festivities. At this year’s event, North, Cox and LaPierre all took the stage in what appeared to be a unified front to support Trump’s re-election next year and show the nation that the NRA remains an organization to be reckoned with.
Two months later, some are wondering if that’s still the case.