Oliver North, key figure in Iran-Contra scandal, to become NRA president

Oliver North, the retired U.S. Marine who was at the center of the Reagan-era Iran-Contra scandal, will become the president of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun rights group announced on Monday.

North will take over the post "within a few weeks," the NRA said in a statement.

"This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became president of our association," said Wayne LaPierre, the leader and public face of the group.

North, 74, was the key figure in the national controversy over the sale of arms to Iran and the funneling of proceeds to the rebel Contras in Nicaragua. The ensuing political drama dominated headlines during President Ronald Reagan's second term.

The square-jawed lieutenant colonel was a ubiquitous face on American television screens during the much-hyped Iran-Contra hearings in the late 1980s. North, wearing his uniform and medals, testified in 1987 that he had "never carried out a single act, not one," without federal authorization.

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North, who has since become a commentator on Fox News, spoke at the annual NRA convention in Dallas last week, kicking off the event with an invocation. The remarks ended with the crowd yelling, "Amen!"

President Donald Trump spoke at the same event on Friday, pledging to the crowd of guns rights supporters that their Second Amendment rights would "never, ever be under siege as long as I'm your president."