NRA Throws Wayne LaPierre Under Bus in ‘Course Correction’ Resignation

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
Associated Press/Evan Vucci

  • The NRA corruption trial began Monday with Wayne LaPierre described to jurors as the group’s “king.”
  • Ahead of the vacancies, NRA lawyers presented LaPierre’s resignation as evidence of a “course correction.”
  • LaPierre resigned because of chronic Lyme disease, his lawyers also revealed.

The National Rifle Association is hoping to avoid punishment in its civil corruption trial in New York, saying the sudden resignation of NRA leader Wayne LaPierre last week helps prove there is no longer “ongoing and persistent” wrongdoing by the gun lobby .

Jurors should hear evidence of the NRA’s “course correction,” including that LaPierre is about to quit, the gun lobby argued in a lawsuit this weekend.

They argued that the NRO did not give LaPierre an opportunity. Rather, they were victimized by “rogue ex-officers,” the gun lobby claims, apparently now lumping LaPierre in with the crooks.

The NRA’s sudden reversal on its leader of 30 years drew skepticism from Attorney General Letitia James.

In a response filed Sunday, she suggested the timing of the resignation, three days before Monday’s opening statements, was intended to gain an advantage in the trial.

LaPierre, who was in court Monday and attended three of the five days of jury selection, announced Friday that he is stepping down, effective Jan. 31, for unspecified “health reasons.” His lawyers clarified over the weekend that LaPierre suffers from chronic Lyme disease.

“After standing toe to toe with Mr. LaPierre for more than three years litigating this case,” James side wrote Sunday, “the NRA is suddenly claiming to reverse course.”

LaPierre’s departure is now being described by the NRA as an example of “clear corrective action” and as an “excuse to avoid responsibility,” her statement, signed by Monica Connell, James’ special counsel, said.

The NRA’s reference to misconduct by “rogue ex-employees” is notable, she adds, as a designation “which now likely includes[s] Mr. Lapierre.”

“The NRA should not be allowed to present Mr. LaPierre’s resignation as a component of its defense” at trial, Connell added.

The written exchange between the NRA and the AG came before the state’s opening statements in a Manhattan courtroom Monday, also by Connell.

In her openings, she promised jurors that testimony over the next five weeks would show that NRA loyalists saw LaPierre as their “king” and that they allowed him to squander “hundreds of millions” of donor dollars on his cronies and his own lavish lifestyle. life.

Jurors were screened and selected in secret, behind closed doors in the judge’s office.

Journalists, including Business Insider, were kept in the dark about the trial, despite repeatedly asking the judge and the state judiciary for an opportunity to object in advance if jury selection was held in private.

In a statement from the bench before jurors were called, the judge presiding over the trial, New York Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen, said secrecy was the only way prospective jurors could participate “candidly,” given the ” a number of sensitive issues.”

Attorneys for the NRA, LaPierre and two co-defendants have denied wrongdoing and will make their own opening statements Tuesday.

But in their latest preliminary filing, gun lobby attorneys wrote that, especially since LaPierre’s recent resignation, the AG can no longer show “current or imminent harm to the public.”

“The NRA has ceased and shows no intention of resuming the practices complained of by the NYAG,” the defense wrote, using the initials for “Attorney General of New York.”

“This conclusion is underscored by the departure of Wayne LaPierre, the employee who allegedly exercised ‘power and control’ over the NRA,” the filing added.

Jurors should be barred from holding the NRA accountable unless the AG proves that the group’s “maladministration” “continues or is likely to recur,” they argued.

James began his investigation into the NRA in February 2019 and wants the gun lobby held accountable for executive branch misconduct.

She hopes the jury will find that loyal members of the 76 people the board ignored or indulged LaPierre’s excesses. She hopes the judge will then bar the NRA from reinstalling him at the nonprofit’s helm.

LaPierre enjoys great popularity in the group of five million members. He was re-elected leader in 2022, two years after the AG’s allegations against him were first revealed.

The AG’s case was filed in August 2020 and has been mired in pretrial proceedings for more than three years. In addition to the NRA and LaPierre, it names current general counsel John Frazier, the current general counsel, and Wilson “Woody” Phillips, the former CFO, as defendants.

The lawsuit seeks to force LaPierre, Frazer and Phillips to pay back a yet-to-be-determined amount to the NRA. He also seeks to ensure that they can never again serve on the board of a New York charity.

The NRA “operated on a “Wayne Says” basis,” even as LaPierre funneled millions to his friends and himself, including traveling to Greece, Dubai and the Mediterranean on the donor’s dime, attorney general Connell told jurors. jurors at Monday’s opening.

Officials will testify that LaPierre was considered the “king of the NRA,” Connell told the six jurors and six alternates. Loyal board members looked the other way or actively enabled his greed, she said.

James declared “the end of the Wayne LaPierre era” in response to the press on Friday’s news of LaPierre’s sudden resignation. But James also noted in his statement that the resignation “will not insulate him or the NRA from liability.”

The judge did not say whether LaPierre’s resignation would affect what evidence could be obtained or his instructions to jurors.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *