Trump says NRA 'must get its act together quickly' amid internal strife, New York probe

Trump said the NRA "is under siege" by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James as the state investigates the organization.
Image: President Donald Trump speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum in Indianapolis on April 26, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum in Indianapolis on April 26, 2019.Scott Olson / Getty Images

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By Allan Smith

President Donald Trump on Monday called for the National Rifle Association to "get its act together quickly" amid internal strife and a New York attorney general probe.

"The NRA is under siege by Cuomo and the New York State A.G., who are illegally using the State’s legal apparatus to take down and destroy this very important organization, & others," Trump tweeted. "It must get its act together quickly, stop the internal fighting, & get back to GREATNESS - FAST!"

"People are fleeing New York State because of high taxes and yes, even oppression of sorts," the president wrote in a second tweet. "They didn’t even put up a fight against SALT - could have won. So much litigation. The NRA should leave and fight from the outside of this very difficult to deal with (unfair) State!"

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The tweets came after a tumultuous last few days for the gun rights organization, which featured its president, Oliver North, announcing he would step down one day after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced she opened an investigation into the group's tax-exempt status.

James' office said in a statement responding to Trump's tweets that the state attorney general "is focused on enforcing the rule of law. In any case we pursue, we will follow the facts wherever they may lead. We wish the President would share our respect for the law.”

North, a central figure in the Reagan era Iran-Contra scandal that led to him becoming somewhat of a hero on the right, had sought to oust the NRA's longtime chief executive, Wayne LaPierre.

In a letter read on his behalf at the organization's annual convention on Saturday, North said he would not be renominated and said the group had "a clear crisis" on its hands that needed to be dealt with "immediately and responsibly." North had formed a committee to investigate any financial impropriates in the organization.

The kerfuffle first spilled out into the public when The Wall Street Journal reported on the strife between North and LaPierre. North said any such financial improprieties could threaten the organization's nonprofit status. Meanwhile, LaPierre accused North of trying to extort him, threatening to release damaging information if the chief executive and other leaders did not resign.

In addition to the New York attorney general's probe, the NRA is facing a legal battle with the state's Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, and his administration over insurance the organization offers gun owners. LaPierre blasted both Cuomo and James at the convention, saying the former "hates the NRA and hates our freedom" and noting that James has likened the group to "a terrorist organization."

Trump, who addressed the NRA convention on Friday, has feuded with the New York attorney general in the past, as she and her predecessors have probed his business and charity.