NRA Wants Mute Button at Ex-Leader’s Interview

MANHATTAN (CN) – The National Rifle Association asked a judge Friday to let its lawyers sit in next week when New York deposes the group’s former president Oliver North.

“By virtue of his positions as president and board member at the NRA, North was afforded access to and learned of information, communications, and documents that are protected by the attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine, and as trial preparation materials,” the group said in a petition ahead of a hearing this afternoon in Manhattan Supreme Court.

“He, however, is not the holder of the privileges. Rather, it is the NRA and/or its board who has the prerogative to assert or waive privileges they respectively possess,” the petition continues. “In addition, work product protections cannot be waived without the consent of the counsel who holds them.”

Oliver North speaks on April 26, 2019, at the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Amid inner turmoil in the gun-rights group, North stepped down in April as NRA president. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

North resigned as president of the NRA in April after the gun group’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, accused him of threatening to release damaging information on LaPierre in attempted coup.

New York issued subpoenas around the same time, saying it had received credible allegations that the group was abusing its tax-exempt status with some of the top leaders diverting millions from the budget. The subpoenas by New York Attorney General Letitia James instructed the NRA and affiliated entities, including its charitable foundation, to preserve relevant financial records.

While the NRA is headquartered in Northern Virginia, the gun group is chartered in New York, giving James authority to review its nonprofit status. A similar investigation by James’ predecessor led to the dissolution of the Trump Foundation.

Judge Melissa Ann Crane did not grant the NRA its requested restraining order at the hearing this afternoon. She scheduled further arguments for Monday morning, one day before North is scheduled to undergo deposition.

At North’s examination, the NRA wants its lawyers present to lodge concise objections aimed at preserving privileges belonging to the NRA, its counsel, and its board counsel, including communications protected by the attorney-client privilege, the work-product doctrine, and as trial-preparation material.

Despite resigning as president, North remains a member of the NRA’s board of directors. Represented by Brendan Sullivan from Williams & Connolly, North is not a named party on the NRA’s petition.

The NRA is represented by attorneys with Brewer Attorneys & Counselors, which has offices in New York and Dallas.

New York’s investigation is ongoing and so far not resulted in any litigation or enforcement actions.

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