The White House is going all-in on embracing the NRA.
After huddling with his NRA allies during a secret White House meeting over the weekend, Trump reassured Republicans on Monday that they had nothing to fear from the organization.
“Don’t worry about the NRA. They’re on our side,” Trump said during a meeting with governors on school safety.
“You guys, half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he assured them.
And he even mocked journalists for not knowing about the undisclosed meeting.
“I can’t believe the press didn’t find this out. I think they’re getting a bit lazy.”
Trump insisted he’d “fight” the gun lobby if they opposed his efforts on gun violence. Instead, he is allowing them to completely dictate his radical gun policy.
In contrast to the private lunch, Trump hosted an awkward “listening session” last week with survivors of the Parkland shooting. The event may have been designed to project an image of Trump as engaged and empathetic. But he needed a cheat sheet to remind him to listen to the victims.
And unlike gun lobbyists, survivors did not get an extended private meeting with Trump.
Both the White House and the NRA are struggling with the political fallout of yet another mass shooting. And specifically in the case of Parkland, Florida, they are facing a powerful grassroots gun-safety movement led by local high school students.
Trump is echoing the NRA’s fringe talking points about the need to arm schoolteachers in order to protect students. But there’s virtually nobody in the ranks or leadership of the Republican Party willing to publicly back that idea.
Indeed, such a notion is straight out of the NRA’s agenda, but it’s no wonder Trump is pushing it. According to McClatchy, the organization spent between $55 and $70 million in 2016 helping him get elected, a record-breaking amount even for the deep-pocketed group.
“The $55 million is more than twice the $22 million the NRA spent overall in 2012 and more than four times what it spent in 2008 and 2004, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics,” McClatchy noted.
Last December, in a craven display of indifference, Trump hosted NRA boss Wayne LaPierre at the White House on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School gun massacre.
And as families in Florida are mourning, Trump once again sided with the gun lobby over the victims of gun violence.