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NRA loses bid to listen as state attorney general questions its ex-president Oliver North

2019-08-19

New York State Attorney General Letitia James, left, and retired U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North.

The NRA cannot listen in as New York state attorneys question its ex-president about the powerful pro-gun group’s finances, a judge ruled Monday.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Melissa Ann Crane said the presence of NRA lawyers during questioning of Oliver North under oath would interfere with the ongoing investigation by State Attorney General Letitia James. The sit-down was scheduled for Tuesday.

“Having the NRA or its board sit in on (the questioning) could have the serious consequence of compromising the integrity of the investigation, particularly given the acrimonious relationship between the NRA and Mr. North,” Crane said, ruling from the bench.

North, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel best known for his role in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, allegedly led a failed bid to oust NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre in April.

James’s investigation is focused on the NRA’s tax-exempt status as a non-profit. North has claimed that financial mismanagement by LaPierre and other NRA higher-ups could jeopardize its viability as an organization.

“Despite the NRA’s best efforts to silence board members, justice will prevail, and the truth will be exposed, because no one is above the law. We are pleased with today’s decision because the NRA should never be allowed to stifle a legal investigation. The court has ruled that former NRA Board President Oliver North will now be able to sit down with our investigators and answer our questions, without the intimidating presence of the NRA. We will never waver in our fight for truth and justice," James said in a statement.

The NRA, which planned to file an emergency appeal, had argued it should be present during the questioning in case North divulges information on the group that is protected by attorney-client privilege. But Assistant Attorney General Emily Stern promised to cut off North should he begin sharing information that is off-limits.

The NRA and North are locked in a separate legal battle over North’s alleged “extortion” attempt of LaPierre.