Bill Clinton to Donald Trump on gun control inaction during impeachment: 'You got hired to do a job'

Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – During a TV interview to react to the Saugus High School shooting in California that left at least two dead and multiple people injured, President Bill Clinton said President Donald Trump needs to work with Congress on gun control legislation, even in the face of the current impeachment inquiry, and "do what's right for the children."

“What would your message to President Trump be about when he says, ‘I can’t work with these people, they’re impeaching me?’” CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Clinton.  

“You got hired to do a job. You don't get the days back you blow off,” Clinton said his message to Trump would be. “Every day's an opportunity to make something good happen. I would say, 'I've got lawyers and staff people handling the impeachment inquiry and they should just have at it. Meanwhile, I'm going to work for the American people.'"

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The former president was reacting to a clip of Attorney General Bill Barr saying Wednesday, the first day of the public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, that "discussions on the legislative aspects" of gun control "have been sidetracked because of the impeachment process on the Hill." 

“Look at how much we got done in 1998 and 1999,” Clinton said, referring to the years he faced his own impeachment inquiry, and called blaming the inquiry an "excuse."

Previously, Trump had voiced some support for background checks after back-to-back mass shootings this summer in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas left 31 people dead.

Since then, no gun control legislation has passed, and Trump has backed away from supporting legislation such as enhanced background checks for firearm purchases.

Clinton expressed that he believes Trump was pulled back from such measures by the gun lobby who "got a hold of him."

"But at some point, denial is no longer an option. The Congress is basically in denial of the consequences of doing nothing, or at least the people who are opposed to it," he continued.

Clinton was the last president to have signed major gun control legislation, signing off on the assault weapons ban in 1994 that has since expired. 

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The Democratic-led House has passed stricter gun measures, but so far, the Republican-controlled Senate has not moved to support such laws.

Clinton insisted that the American public is much more supportive of gun control laws from when he passed the 1994 legislation and that politicians are less likely to face electoral consequences as they did in the 1990s when Democrats lost the majority. He stated, "It's not that way anymore. It's now a voting issue for the people that agree with us." 

“If you’re just worried about the naked politics, it’s at least a wash," Clinton said, reiterating his support for reinstating an assault weapons ban, or at least a clean background check law grounded in modern technology. "People should instead do what’s right for the children.”

Contributing: Nicholas Wu

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bill Clinton calls out Trump after school shooting for refusal to work with Congress during impeachment