These are the banks financing the assault weapons industry
More than a dozen institutions are bankrolling mass shootings.
Josh Israel, Kira Lerner
Feb 26, 2018
Since the Parkland shooting, corporations with financial ties to the NRA have been subjected to intense scrutiny. In less than two weeks, consumers have convinced more than 20 companies to end relationships with a gun lobby that has encouraged the proliferation of assault weapons and aggressively blocked virtually all legislation to curb gun violence.
Less attention has been paid to the banks supporting manufacturers that produce those weapons — especially the semi-automatic assault weapons used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and in so many other mass shootings.
On Saturday, one bank came forward to say it’s reconsidering its own relationship to gun manufacturers.
“We are joining other companies in our industry to examine what we can do to help end the tragedy of mass shootings, and an immediate step we’re taking is to engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility,” Bank of America said in a statement to Axios on Saturday.
A review of SEC filings and other public records revealed that Bank of America isn’t the only financial institution that finances the production of assault weapons. Five of the largest gun manufacturers are supported by over a dozen banks through varying types of credit arrangements.
ThinkProgress reached out to all of the banks financing Remington Outdoor, Smith & Wesson, Sturm Ruger, Sig Sauer, and Vista Outdoor, the makers of the assault weapons used in Parkland, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, at a church in Texas, and in countless other tragedies.
The banks include:
Bank of America
Bank of America has provided lines of credit to Vista Outdoor, Sturm Ruger, and Remington. The bank recently renewed a line of credit with a $40 million maximum to Sturm Ruger until June 15, 2018. It is also financing Remington, the maker of the Bushmaster XM-15 used in Sandy Hook, as the company prepares to file for bankruptcy.
On Saturday, a spokesperson for the bank said that it is engaging “the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility.” On Monday, a Bank of America representative declined to comment on the bank’s next steps.
Bank of Montreal
Bank of Montreal has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor, the maker of the rifle Adam Lanza used to murder his mother before he shot and killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Berkshire Bank has provided a line of credit to Sig Sauer, the maker of the MCX rifle used at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando to kill 49 people and wound 53. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Branch Bank & Trust (BB&T)
BB&T has provided lines of credit to Vista Outdoor and Sig Sauer, as well as a a revolving $78 million line of credit to Smith & Wesson (through its parent company American Outdoor Brands Corp). Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Capital One has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Citizens Financial Group
Citizens has provided a line of credit to Sig Sauer. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
JPMorgan Chase has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Morgan Stanley Bank
Morgan Stanley has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
MUFG Bank, formerly known as Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UHJ, has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor. A representative declined to comment Monday.
Northern Trust Company
Northern Trust has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
People’s United Bank
People’s United Bank has provided lines of credit to Vista Outdoor and Sig Sauer, as well as a $36 million revolving line of credit to Smith & Wesson. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Regions has provided lines of credit to Vista Outdoor and Sig Sauer, as well as a $78 million revolving line of credit to Smith & Wesson. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Stifel Bank & Trust
Stifel has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
TD has provided a line of credit to Sig Sauer and a revolving $78 million line of credit to Smith & Wesson. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
U.S. Bank has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Wells Fargo has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor and a revolving $78 million line of credit to Smith & Wesson.
Jennifer Dunn, a spokesperson for the bank, told ThinkProgress Monday that the bank could not confirm its relationship with gun manufacturers because of client confidentiality rules.
“Like all of you, we at Wells Fargo are deeply saddened and troubled by the recurring gun violence that is touching our communities and schools,” she said in an email. “We respect and encourage the debate our nation is having regarding firearms and public safety, and we believe the best way to resolve this issue is through the political and legislative process, where all Americans have the opportunity to participate. We encourage our team members, our customers, and third parties to work together over the coming days to discuss what additional steps we may take together in support of enhanced public safety.”
Zions First National
Zions Bank has provided a line of credit to Vista Outdoor. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Judd Legum contributed research. This story will be updated as the companies respond to ThinkProgress.
#Assault Weapons, #Banking, #Gun Industry Accountability, #Gun Violence, #Guns, #Parkland Shooting
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, IT’S WAY WORSE THAN WE IMAGINED
The State Department has spent $0 of the $120 million it has been budgeted for combatting foreign interference in U.S. elections. None of the 23 analysts speak Russian at the Global Engagement Center, which is tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaigns. A hiring freeze has prevented the department from recruiting the kind of computer experts needed to track foreign efforts to meddle in the U.S. election process. (New York Times)
DON’T FORGET CONDOLEEZZA RICE PROMOTED TILLERSON FOR STATE
The author of the Trump dossier told Mueller’s team that Russia asked Trump not to hire Mitt Romney as secretary of state. Instead Russia advised Trump to pick someone who would ease sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine. Christopher Steele spoke with the special counsel’s investigators last September. In his 2012 presidential run, Romney called Russia “our No. 1 geopolitical foe.” (The New Yorker)
Republican: God will fix global warming.
Democrat: I hope my grandchildren survive.
Republican: People who are different from me want special treatment.
Democrat: Everyone should be treated equally.
Republican: I will never have enough money.
Democrat: I don’t mind contributing to the welfare of all.
Republican: If it doesn’t affect me, it’s not a problem.
Democrat: I care about people I don’t know.
Trump’s Economic Advisor Gary Cohn to resign! GEEZ… over 40 % of the staff have left the WH…This is NOT THE APPRENTICE!!
Independent government investigative agency says Kellyanne Conway twice violated federal law prohibiting government employees from engaging in political activities. http://abcn.ws/2FkqQMW
229 Republicans Voted Last Night to Prevent You from Ever Seeing Donald Trump’s Tax Returns
March 1, 2017
House Republicans have blocked an attempt by Democrats to force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to Congress.
Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey said Monday that Congress has a responsibility to hold the executive branch “to the highest standard of transparency to ensure the public interest is placed first.”
Pascrell and other Democrats said the tax returns also would help lawmakers and the public determine whether Trump has any investments in Russia.
Trump has said he has no investments in Russia, and Democrats acknowledged they have no evidence otherwise. They said that is one reason they want to obtain access to Trump’s returns.
The Republican-controlled House on Monday approved Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s motion to postpone indefinitely Pascrell’s proposal. The vote was 229 to 185.
If there’s nothing controversial in the Trump’s tax returns then what are the Republicans so afraid of?
Listen Obama had to release his long form birth certificates, why can’t Trump release his tax return?
Its amazing in its hypocrisy …. Trump went on and on for years taunting Obama to show his birth certificate if he had nothing to hide …. something no president has ever had to do, and yet the Cheeto dusted pathological liar refuses to show his tax returns, something every president does for the sake of transparency.
Martin Luther King
“We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. We will not hate you, but we will not obey your evil laws. We will soon wear you down by our capacity to suffer. So in winning the victory we will not only win freedom for ourselves, but we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that you will be changed also. The victory will be a double victory: We will defeat the evil system and win the hearts and souls of the perpetrator of the evil system.”
Mike Pence toils for 2018 victories in place of a distracted Trump
by Vaughn Hillyard
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and his White House have spent the last several weeks caught up in staff shake-ups, infighting, more revelations about Russia investigations and the response to the nation’s latest mass school shooting.
Vice President Mike Pence, on the other hand, spent a good part of that same time traveling to states like Michigan, Tennessee and Texas, raising money for Republican candidates up and down the ballot in advance of this fall’s midterm elections and selling the party’s achievements in Washington, especially on taxes.
It’s just the beginning of an ambitious calendar of events Pence has sketched out in the next three months, revealing a traditional political approach for a key member of a decidedly unorthodox presidency.
By the end of April, the vice president will have headlined 30 political events, according to his calendar, a schedule Republicans believe will be critical to helping them protect their congressional majorities in November at a time when many are predicting a Democratic wave.
On Friday, Pence visited Detroit for a tax policy event and political fundraiser, and next week he will travel to Iowa, Kentucky and Nebraska.
Pence’s ambitious early 2018 effort was sketched out during a January meeting at Camp David with the president, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“Everyone agreed that the vice president has a key role to play in this process — the tip of the spear, so to speak,” said Marty Obst, a longtime Pence adviser who heads the Great America Committee, a leadership PAC formed last year primarily to cover the costs of Pence’s political travels.
And while the attention in Washington remains fixed elsewhere, Pence has begun focusing the party’s campaign message on touting the administration’s successes, including the signing of the major tax reform measure at the end of 2017.
“Promises made, promises kept,” Pence said last Tuesday in a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, promoting an agenda that, he says, has resulted in an America that is “more secure and booming.”
“Under President Trump, strength is back, jobs are coming back. In a word, America is coming back,” Pence told the National Religious Broadcasters convention. “The past year has been a year of action — a year of remarkable results.”
And the vice president is just getting started.
Later this month, his stops will include North Dakota, on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Kevin Cramer. Then, on to Nevada in April for Sen. Dean Heller’s re-election bid, as well as to Missouri for Senate candidate Josh Hawley. He will also visit Nebraska and New Hampshire to stump for the re-election of Govs. Pete Ricketts and Chris Sununu.
“Many politicians are good at bonding but not good at the ask,” Doug Deason, a Dallas investor and prominent Trump donor who is part of the Koch brothers network, said of Pence’s pitch for donations. “Mike is just extremely gregarious and a straight shooter. He’s a Godly man — everything we stand for as conservatives. It’s huge for the party.”
Two weeks ago, Pence visited the Dallas home of Deason’s father, Darwin Deason, a billionaire businessman who hosted a luncheon with 14 big donors that resulted in several million dollars in donations for America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC.
Later that night at a Dallas hotel, Pence headlined his first fundraiser for Protect the House, a new campaign fund that aids Pence’s PAC, along with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s super PAC, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and 22 vulnerable Republican House members that the party hopes to help ahead of the election.
The Dallas fundraiser hauled in $800,000 that will help, in part, the likes of Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, who attended the event and is one of the vulnerable Republicans.
The vice president is packing plenty into his trips out of Washington.
On Tuesday in Tennessee, for example, in addition to his speech to broadcasters, Pence addresed the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization with a super PAC arm that provides financial backing to anti-abortion candidates, and attended a fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association at Gov. Bill Haslam’s residence.
Pence has already proved to be one of the most effective rainmakers since taking office. He led a fundraising swing through California in October that his allies intend to build on in other states this spring. Over the course of 48 hours in the state, Pence raised $5 million — funds that were divvied up between his leadership PAC, the NRCC and each California Republican congressional member.
“Vice presidents and presidents have always come to California to raise money, but this is the first time I remember a vice president starting in one end of the state and going breakfast, lunch and dinner up and down the state and raising that kind of money for our party,” said Jim Brulte, the chairman of the California Republican Party.
Pence also campaigned in February for Rick Saccone ahead of a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District on March 13 and raised $225,000 on the candidate’s behalf.
In Michigan on Friday, Pence headlined an event hosted by America First Policies — his third such event for the organization— before leading another Protect the House fundraiser, which will help, in part, Rep. Mike Bishop, of Rochester, Michigan, another vulnerable Republicans to benefit from the fund.
Pence’s PAC is also evaluating primaries in competitive congressional seats being vacated by Republican members.
“There are some open districts that are challenges,” Obst said. “We’ll look at polling and performance, and we’ll do this based on the calculus of what we need to do to hold the House.”
Obst insisted there are “no lost causes” in November, including the tough districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. “We think that talk of the wave election is premature,” Obst asserted.
Pence’s efforts will be aided by other political campaign arms, including the NRCC and outside groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Paul Ryan-backed super PAC that has already opened campaign field offices in 27 congressional districts to assist the candidates’ efforts.
But the vice president is at the center of the party’s 2018 campaign efforts, knowing all too well that midterm elections often do not fair well for the party in power.
“We threw out the playbook in 2016, and we’re going to throw it out in 2018,” Pence promised to more than 1,500 Republican activists last month at the Dallas County GOP’s Reagan Day Dinner.
And thus far, he is leading the party’s efforts at following that very playbook.
Nunberg episode marks the dawn of Mueller’s March madness
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Updated 8:11 AM ET, Tue March 6, 2018
Nunberg: Don’t care what WH is saying about me
Tapper to Nunberg: I’d cooperate if it were me
Nunberg says he will defy Mueller’s subpoena
Ex-Trump aide Sam Nunberg defies Mueller probe
Washington (CNN) — The grinding pressure of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is starting to do strange things to people’s heads.
How else to explain a staggering, reality TV-style meltdown of short-lived Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg on Monday, played out in a batch of cable news interviews, marking the oddest twist of the Russia saga yet?
In a stunning blast of accusations, insults and non-sequiturs, Nunberg vowed to defy a grand jury subpoena, dared Mueller to arrest him and claimed the relentless prosecutor believed that Donald Trump was a Manchurian candidate.
It all unfolded in hour upon hour of car-crash television, in a compelling self-immolation that it was impossible to look away from and provided a reminder of the cast of erratic, oddball characters who drift in and out of the President’s employ — some of whom staffed his campaign and his administration. Trump on Tuesday downplayed suggestions that his White House was in “chaos” but instead had “great energy.”
At times, Nunberg appeared close to the end of his rope, saying he had already spoken to Mueller’s team and did not wish to spend another “80 hours” digging through his communications with Trump aides that had been subpoenaed by the special counsel.
Nunberg told CNN’s Gloria Borger when asked if he would testify to the grand jury on Friday, “Why do I have to go? Why? For what?”
His defiance risked landing him in jail on contempt charges and threatened to create a sideshow for the straight-laced special counsel while his outbursts were sure to trigger days of news coverage and will therefore likely infuriate Trump.
But though Nunberg’s emotional outpouring might be seen as the ramblings of someone under intense duress, it had enough hints of where the Russia investigation may be heading to worry the President.
“This guy is all over the map,” former FBI special agent Josh Campbell said, dubbing the Nunberg show “the Great Unravelling.”
“Up until this point Mueller’s team has been so tight, we haven’t seen the leaks so it has been very difficult to see what he’s looking for,” Campbell said. “I think it’s incredible, seeing today this episode unfold before our eyes because it gives us that insight into where the investigation is ultimately headed.”
Sam Nunberg: ‘I’m not going to get sent to prison’
Nunberg, apparently interpreting questions already put to him by Mueller’s investigators, said for instance that he believes that the special counsel has something on Trump related to the Russian meddling effort on the 2016 election: “I suspect they suspect something about him,” he told Borger.
He also claimed the special counsel is trying to prove that Trump associate Roger Stone colluded with Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks site which is reputed to have links with Russian intelligence.
In another claim that would be highly significant if it turns out to be true, Nunberg claimed Trump knew about a meeting between his son Donald Trump Jr., campaign officials and a Russia delegation offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“He talked about it a week before and I don’t know why he did this,” said Nunberg, in his second CNN interview, this time with Jake Tapper.
“I don’t know why he went around trying to hide. He shouldn’t have,” Nunberg said.
The President has denied he knew anything about the meeting.
Nunberg also said he suspected that former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page had colluded with the Russians, and said he was a “moron” — though argued that he was too low-level to have much influence with Trump.
While much of what Nunberg said was insulting toward Trump and his staff, he also insisted that the President did not conspire with the Russians during the election, offering a rather backhanded defense of his former boss.
“Vladimir Putin is too smart to collude with Donald Trump,” Nunberg told CNN. “Donald Trump couldn’t keep his mouth shut if Putin colluded with him.”
In the middle of his cable spree, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders delivered her daily briefing and suggested Nunberg was woefully misguided in his allegation that Trump may have committed wrongdoing during the campaign.
“I think he definitely doesn’t know that for sure because he’s incorrect,” Sanders said. “There was no collusion.”
But the manner of Nunberg’s unburdening on cable television and the eye-popping nature of his claims cannot have helped but attract the notice of Trump, an avid cable news viewer, and are unlikely to improve his festering mood over Russia.
In his interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Nunberg slammed the White House, saying the Trump team was doing a terrible job, given the President’s low approval ratings. “They can say whatever they want about me,” he said.
At least part of Nunberg’s motivation appeared to lie in his anger about how he and Stone were treated by Trump — a provocation that may be all but impossible for the President’s twitchy Twitter finger to ignore.
At the White House, Trump’s aides watched the Nunberg interviews in shock, calling them “nuts” and “bizarre,” CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported.
The outlandish nature of Nunberg’s charges are bound to raise questions about his credibility as a witness and will give the White House an opening as it seeks to discount his claims about the scope of the Mueller investigation.
At one point, Burnett said that she smelled alcohol on Nunberg’s breath. Though he said he had not been drinking, there must be some question about the state of his mind.
But there’s no doubt his appearances also present Trump’s team with a problem, since the President has been prone to his own emotional outbursts about the Russia probe, and any inflammatory reaction on his part will only prolong the story.
Even before the Nunberg meltdown, Trump appeared fixated and angry about the Russia investigation Monday, going further than before in accusing his predecessor Barack Obama of intervening in the 2016 election against him.
“Why did the Obama Administration start an investigation into the Trump Campaign (with zero proof of wrongdoing) long before the Election in November? Wanted to discredit so Crooked H would win. Unprecedented. Bigger than Watergate! Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The tweet was wrong on a number of counts, but it may offer some insight into Trump’s own current state of mind.
Trump’s feelings can hardly have been tempered by two other prominent news stories about alleged scandals on Monday related to the bizarre ecosystem of scandals and accusations surrounding his campaign and personal conduct.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen complained to friends he had not been reimbursed for a six-figure payment to a porn star alleged to have had an affair with the billionaire-turned-politician.
Cohen previously said he had facilitated a payment to Stephanie Clifford, better known as the porn star Stormy Daniels, but has denied that Trump and Clifford had an affair in 2006, as the paper reported.
For a while Monday, the scene of the Russia election intrigue shifted to Bangkok and a sweltering Thai detention center where a self-styled “sex coach” who claims to have detailed insider knowledge of Russian meddling in the US election told CNN she wants to cooperate with US investigators.
Belarus-born Anastasia Vashukevich claims she has an hour of audio recordings and photos of meetings. She also claims to be the former mistress of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, and says she witnessed several meetings in 2016 and 2017 between the oligarch and and at least three unnamed Americans.
Back in Washington, what passed for normality in the Trump era went on in the shadow of the Russia storm. Trump met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is himself under a legal cloud, fighting several cases of alleged corruption. America’s allies piled desperate pressure on the White House to try to head of steel and aluminum tariffs promised by Trump that could spark a trade war. And the White House announced that the President will appear alongside Swedish Prime Minister Löfven in the East Room on Tuesday, where he will take questions from reporters.
But March 5, 2018, will forever be remembered as the day of Nunberg TV.
Trump to consider elephant trophy imports on ‘case-by-case’ basis
By Miranda Green – 03/05/18
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced last week that it will now consider all permits for importing elephant trophies from African nations on a “case-by-case basis,” breaking from President Trump’s earlier promises to maintain an Obama-era ban on the practice.
In a formal memorandum issued on Thursday, FWS said it will withdraw its 2017 Endangered Species Act (ESA) findings for trophies of African elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia, “effective immediately.”
The memo said “the findings are no longer effective for making individual permit determinations for imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies.”
In its place, FWS will instead “grant or deny permits to import a sport-hunted trophy on a case-by-case basis.”
FWS said it will still consider the information included in the ESA findings, as well as science-based risk assessments of the species’ vulnerability, when evaluating each permit request.
The service also announced it is withdrawing a number of previous ESA findings, which date back to 1995, related to trophies of African elephants, bontebok and lions from multiple African countries.
The decision to withdraw the FWS findings followed a D.C. Circuit Court decision in December that found fault with the initial Obama-era rule, which banned importing elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe.
“In response to a recent D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is revising its procedure for assessing applications to import certain hunted species. We are withdrawing our countrywide enhancement findings for a range of species across several countries,” a spokesperson for FWS said in a statement. “In their place, the Service intends to make findings for trophy imports on an application-by-application basis.”
A federal appeals court ruled at the end of last year that the Obama administration did not follow the right procedures when it drafted its ban on the imports. The court also said the FWS should have gone through the extensive process of proposing a regulation, inviting public comment and making the regulation final when it made determinations in 2014 and 2015 that elephant trophies cannot be brought into the country.
The agency used the same procedures as the Obama administration for its ESA determination in 2017 that led to reopening African elephant imports to the U.S. in November.
At the time, a FWS spokesperson said the reversal “will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.”
Following the fall announcement to overturn the ban, the Trump administration faced immense backlash, which played a role in leading the president to denounce elephant hunting and promise to re-establish the ban.
Trump in February called the administration’s initial decision to overturn the Obama-era ban “terrible.”
In an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan, Trump said he had decided to officially turn the order around.
“I didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back into this [country] and people can talk all they want about preservation and all of the things that they’re saying where money goes towards ― well, money was going ― in that case, going to a government which was probably taking the money, OK?” Trump said.
Despite the president’s tweets and interviews, however, FWS and the Interior Department remained tight-lipped as to the status of the ban. Numerous requests for information to FWS from The Hill over several months were referred to Interior and left unanswered.
“The president has been very clear in the direction that his administration will go,” the FWS spokesperson said of the new memorandum. “Unfortunately, since aspects of the import permitting program for trophies are the focus of ongoing litigation, the Department is unable to comment about specific next steps at this time.”
Nine days before FWS added the reversal to the Federal Register, the Interior Department announced that it was establishing an International Wildlife Conservation Council to “advise the Secretary of the Interior on the benefits that international recreational hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation.”
Interior Department Spokeswoman Heather Swift said Tuesday that Zinke and the President’s positions remain unchanged.
“The recent FWS posting on the website does not break any promises. In response to a recent D.C. Circuit Court opinion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is revising its procedure for assessing applications to import certain hunted species,” she said.
The council will hold its first meeting next week on March 16.
Timothy Cama contributed.