Ivanka tried convincing Trump on background checks by visualizing it as a 'historic' Rose Garden ceremony. The NRA had other thoughts.

David Choi
Trump Wayne LaPierre NRA

Associated Press


  • President Donald Trump was moving closer to supporting meaningful background checks, a legislative proposal that has historically incensed the National Rifle Association but has gained bipartisan traction in the wake of two mass shootings earlier this month.
  • The idea was also advocated by White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump, who attempted to sell it by framing it as a "historic" and "unprecedented" ceremony at the White House's Rose Garden, The Atlantic reported.
  • Trump was said to have initially "loved it," a former White House official reportedly said. "He was all spun up about it."
  • Then, the president called the NRA's chief executive, Wayne LaPierre.
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President Donald Trump was moving closer to supporting "very meaningful" background checks, a legislative proposal that has historically incensed the National Rifle Association but has gained bipartisan traction in the wake of the August mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Then, the president called the nonprofit organization's chief executive, Wayne LaPierre.

During the phone call earlier in August, Trump went over the idea of implementing stricter background checks on gun purchasers, according to multiple news reports. Trump framed the idea in glowing terms, telling LaPierre, "It's going to be great," an NRA official familiar with the call told The Atlantic.

"They will love us," Trump reportedly said, adding, "I'll give you cover."

LaPierre was not convinced, and in a separate call on Tuesday, Trump informed the executive the idea was scrapped, according to The Atlantic. Instead of increased vetting, Trump was said to have focused on "increasing funding" for mental-health causes and prosecutions for gun crimes, The Atlantic reported.

"He was cementing his stance that we already have background checks and that he's not waffling on this anymore," the NRA official said of Trump, according to The Atlantic. "He doesn't want to pursue it."

Read more: Trump stopped calling for 'very meaningful background checks' on guns after talking to the head of the NRA

Trump previously suggested he was looking into breaking with the NRA's longstanding views.

"Well, I'm looking to do background checks," Trump told reporters immediately after the two mass shootings that killed 31 people. "I think background checks are important. I don't want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate."

He added that "we have to have very meaningful background checks."

But in the weeks after the mass shootings, and after multiple calls with LaPierre, Trump said he was "very concerned" with the Second Amendment and that "people don't realize we have very strong background checks right now."

Numerous Republican lawmakers have voiced their support for expanding the background checks. The idea was also advocated by White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump, who attempted to sell it by framing it as a "historic" and "unprecedented" ceremony at the White House's Rose Garden, The Atlantic reported.

Trump was said to have initially "loved it," a former White House official said to The Atlantic. "He was all spun up about it."

Axios previously reported that Ivanka Trump assessed the viability of the proposal by contacting lawmakers in swing states, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. In an Instagram post, she also pushed for Congress to enact stricter, "common sense" measures "in every state."

"You can strongly support and defend the 2nd Amendment while calling for these common sense, and long-overdue reforms," Ivanka wrote in the post.

Read more: Ivanka Trump and her brother Don Jr. are staking opposite sides in the gun control debate — and the president calls Don Jr. his 'gun expert'

LaPierre took a victory lap on Tuesday after The Atlantic published its report about the internal discussions. LaPierre tweeted that he spoke with Trump and "discussed the best ways to prevent these types of tragedies."

"@realDonaldTrump is a strong #2A President and supports our Right to Keep and Bear Arms," LaPierre said on the NRA's Twitter account, referring to the Second Amendment.

Democratic leaders indicated they expected the policy shift coming from the White House.

"We've seen this movie before: President Donald J. Trump, feeling public pressure in the immediate aftermath of a horrible shooting, talks about doing something meaningful to address gun violence," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on Monday, "but inevitably, he backtracks in response to pressure from the NRA and the hard-right."

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