The National Rifle Association’s longtime public relations agency says NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre “bristled” at the group’s early endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016, thought the real estate developer would lose the election and referred to his administration as the “Trump slump,” the Washington Post reports. The assertions are the latest claims in a legal brawl between the NRA and PR firm Ackerman McQueen. They emerge at what the Post calls “a delicate moment for both the gun rights lobby and the White House.” LaPierre’s direct line to Trump is major currency for the NRA as it tries to quash calls for stricter gun control and contends with allegations of misspending by top leaders.
The NRA’s ongoing support for Trump is a valuable asset for the president heading into a reelection campaign and could help assuage supporters concerned about tentative White House interest in stronger background checks on gun buyers. NRA attorney William Brewer III commented, “In the ultimate act of desperation, Ackerman attempts to discredit Mr. LaPierre’s support of President Trump …Mr. LaPierre’s support of the president is well-known.” The firm has denied any wrongdoing and, in a counterclaim filed Tuesday in Texas, made accusations against LaPierre. The firm said LaPierre balked when the NRA threw its support behind Trump in May 2016, months earlier than the group had weighed in on behalf of presidential contenders in the past. The NRA’s political arm went on to spend a record $30 million in support of Trump’s candidacy despite his previous support for some gun-control measures.