Trump phoned a Democratic senator to discuss ‘a complete opportunity’ to pass gun control reform
On Sunday, The New York Times Magazine ran Robert Draper’s extensive feature “Trump vs. Congress: Now What?,” which chronicled Donald Trump’s relationships with legislators from Election Day and leading up to Friday’s colossal failure of Trumpcare. From Freedom Caucus members to moderate Republicans to coal country Democrats, the outreach was motivated by POTUS’s need to secure his agenda for 2017. And that included a conversation about gun control with Democrat Joe Manchin, the senior senator from West Virginia.
According to Draper’s piece, the phone call was prompted before lunchtime on December 15, after President-elect Trump saw Manchin on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” discussing, the day after the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, the need for stricter gun purchase laws nationwide. “I don’t believe that a terrorist should be able to go to a gun school or to be able to go online and buy any weapon they want,” Manchin told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzinski. “I just don’t believe that at all, Joe, and I’m a bona fide gun owner and I would defend the Second Amendment to the nth degree with every fiber of my body.”
Manchin added that he wanted “to find that middle” wherein Trump could establish a “common sense” dialogue with Republicans on gun control reform.
Draper details how, “within an hour” of Manchin’s appearance, President-elect Trump called the West Virginia lawmaker and seemed on board with what he had just seen on TV:
Within an hour after Manchin was offscreen, his cellphone rang. It was Trump. Manchin was not completely forthcoming about the conversation, but he did tell me that he envisioned “a complete opportunity” for new gun-safety legislation. Unlike with Obama, [Manchin] said, “no one thinks President Trump would do anything that would take away your gun rights.”
Aside from Trump’s obsession with “Morning Joe” and confused feels about its hosts, the probability that Trump was glued to the screen because of Manchin’s charisma is grim. The reason the senator got the invite to the MSNBC show in the first place, more than likely, was because he had paid a visit to Trump Tower and could provide insight into the transition team’s plans. Manchin also paid a visit to the White House on February 9, according to Draper, when he and other conservative-Dem senators (Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, and Montana’s Jon Tester) sat across from Trump in the Roosevelt Room “to discuss the Gorsuch nomination and other matters.”
The White House is counting on these right-leaning Dems for votes when their own moderates won’t back their play in the Senate. So, whether Trump called Manchin because he was sincerely interested in gun control reform or he was just schmoozing him, I suppose it doesn’t really matter because the president has no idea how legislation works in the first place.