A Democratic senator leading the charge for federal gun control said Sunday that President Donald Trump is trying “to have it both ways” and will likely continue “to bob and weave” on the issue.
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Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” “I think the president is trying to have it both ways.”
“I think he knows that the mood of the country has shifted such that he and his party are going to pay a huge price in the polls in 2018 and 2020 if they don’t start supporting things like universal background checks” for gun purchases, Murphy said. “At the same time, the NRA was one of his earliest supporters … And so he’s trying to keep them happy as well.”
Stephanopoulos asked about a meeting that Murphy was at with Trump on Wednesday where the president seemed to support Democratic gun-control proposals. The next day, Trump met with the NRA.
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“Well, listen, the president has the potential to move mountains here,” Murphy said to Stephanopoulos. “The fact of the matter is, his instincts in that meeting are not wrong.”
“If he and the Republicans don’t start showing some movement in the wake of Parkland [high school shooting], there aren’t going to be as many Republicans around for him come 2019,” the Democratic senator continued. “And for his entire agenda and perhaps for his political salvation, that’s not good news for him.”
Murphy added that as far as he knows Trump has not since the Wednesday meeting talked to Republicans in Congress to urge them toward an agreement on gun control.
“Republicans have been so tied to the NRA over the years that unless he tells them that they have to move, nothing is going to happen,” the Connecticut lawmaker said. “And sort of like what happened on immigration, there’s a meeting in which [Trump] suggests he’s willing to do a deal and then he walks away from the table.
Asked by Stephanopoulos if he has any hope of the president coming back around to support gun control, Murphy said, “I have a feeling he’s going to continue to bob and weave.”
He added, “What I take confidence in, though, is that the movement that he showed in that meeting is reflective of what are at his foundation not terrible political instincts.”
Prior to his election to the Senate in 2012, Murphy was congressman for the Connecticut district that encompasses Newtown where in December 2012, a mass shooting at an elementary school killed 20 1st-graders and six teachers and staff.