Washington Brief: Trump Suggests Arming Teachers Would Help Prevent School Shootings

Top Stories

  • Survivors of school shootings and family members of victims shared their stories and calls for action during a public event at the White House with President Donald Trump that gave voice to the emotional debate over how to respond to the latest school shooting. Trump said he would press for both strengthened background checks and enhanced mental health measures, and he floated the idea of allowing some teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons. (The New York Times)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a supporter of gun rights, said during a CNN town hall event that he supports raising the legal age to purchase a rifle from 18, adding that there might be enough votes in the Senate to increase the age threshold to 21. Rubio also said he is “reconsidering” his position on large capacity magazines and that he disagreed with a proposal to arm teachers. (CNN)
  • Sixty-four percent of registered voters want stricter gun control laws, according to a new poll that shows a level of support that’s consistent with figures following other mass shootings. Republican opposition to tougher gun control measures has softened since a poll taken in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., with 29 percent of GOP voters now saying they strongly oppose stricter laws, compared with 42 percent in June 2016. (Morning Consult)
  • Sam Nunberg, one of Trump’s earliest campaign advisers, is set to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators today, according to an unnamed source. Nunberg, who has remained a loyal Trump supporter despite being fired by the campaign in 2015 and later sued by Trump, was asked to meet with the investigators in mid-January soon after after the publication of Michael Wolff’s book about the Trump administration. (Politico)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Conservative Political Action Conference 8:30 a.m.
Technology Policy Institute event on the economics and policy implications of artificial intelligence 8:45 a.m.
Heritage Foundation event on Trump, executive power and the bully pulpit 6 p.m.
Govs. Cooper, Hickenlooper and Otter participate in Axios event on education 8 a.m.
Conservative Political Action Conference 8:25 a.m.
Governors participate in Politico’s State Solutions Conference 9 a.m.
World Bank Group president speaks at Council on Foreign Relations event 1 p.m.

New Report: How Americans & Investors Are Reacting To Market Volatility

Recent tumult in the stock market has triggered a wave of concerns about investor confidence and the possibility of sustained downturn. To provide a better understanding of the real-time reaction to this volatility, Morning Consult conducted a comprehensive survey of both consumers and market investors. See the full report.


Support for Gun Control Following Florida Shooting Matches Las Vegas Aftermath
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

Almost two-thirds of registered voters want stricter gun control laws, according to a nationwide poll conducted after last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., marking a level of support that’s consistent with figures following other mass shootings. Sixty-four percent of registered voters back tougher gun control statutes, compared to 30 percent who oppose such laws, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll on Feb. 20, almost a week after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Mueller asking if Manafort promised banker White House job in return for loans
Tom Winter et al., NBC News

Federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News. Manafort received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City, Virginia and the Hamptons.

Top Political Donors Have Already Given $66 Million for Midterms
John McCormick and Bill Allison, Bloomberg

Billionaire Tom Steyer and packaging king Richard Uihlein are leading the charge among mega-donors seeking to influence the November elections, with the top 10 contributors logging a combined $65.7 million so far in the current campaign cycle. With control of Congress at stake, the top Democratic and Republican donors will be pressed to finance a battle that’s already triggering television advertising and expected to set a spending record.

Democrats want $300 million to fight possible Russia election tampering
Patricia Zengerle, Reuters

U.S. Democratic leaders called on Congress on Wednesday to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation $300 million to fight foreign efforts to interfere in congressional and state elections in November, amid growing concerns about potential Russian influence on the polls. Citing warnings from intelligence agencies that Russia is trying to influence the upcoming vote, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi asked that the additional funds be included in a bill to fund the government which Congress aims to pass by March 23.

Conservatives’ annual conference will toast Trump with critics out of sight
David Weigel, The Washington Post

Thousands of conservative activists will converge on a Washington-area resort this week for their movement’s largest annual gathering — and more than ever, they’ll focus on what the Trump administration is doing right. Both President Trump and Vice President Pence will deliver speeches at the four-day Conservative Political Action Conference, on Friday morning and Thursday morning respectively.

Twitter purges accounts, and conservatives cry foul
Nancy Scola, Politico

Twitter has pruned more suspected trolls and fake accounts from its platform, prompting several of its most outspoken conservative users to complain Wednesday that they had lost thousands of followers overnight. Conservatives quickly decried what they called the “#twitterlockout,” adding it to their list of grievances against what they see as an ideologically liberal tech industry.

Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions about whether they relied on ‘chain migration’
Carol D. Leonnig et al., The Washington Post

The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple gained their green cards. Immigration experts said Viktor and Amalija Knavs very likely relied on a family reunification process that President Trump has derided as “chain migration” and proposed ending in such cases.


Parents and Students Plead With Trump: ‘How Many Children Have to Get Shot?’
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, The New York Times

An anguished father mourning his 18-year-old daughter vented his anger and pleaded for safer schools. A fear-stricken student who watched classmates die last week wept openly as he called for banning assault weapons.

Former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg to meet with Mueller team
Darren Samuelsohn, Politico 

Sam Nunberg, one of President Donald Trump’s earliest campaign advisers, is scheduled to meet Thursday with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators in Washington, according to a person with knowledge of the interview. Nunberg was an outspoken Trump aide who got fired in August 2015 over racially charged Facebook posts.

Trump’s Nominee for Indian Health Post Withdraws
Dan Frosch and Christopher Weaver, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Indian Health Service has withdrawn from consideration for the job, people familiar with the matter said. The move by Robert Weaver, a former insurance broker, comes after The Wall Street Journal published two articles earlier this year in which former colleagues alleged he had in some cases exaggerated his work experience and left a former employer in financial disarray.


6 things Marco Rubio said at the CNN town hall that made news in the US gun debate  
Daniella Diaz, CNN

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, facing high school students Wednesday night who survived the Parkland, Florida, shooting, defended his stance on gun rights — while changing the conversation surrounding the issue. Appearing at a CNN town hall in Florida, Rubio repeatedly made news on the issue of who should have access to firearms by sharing his beliefs on what would have support in the Senate, as well as taking sharp criticism from the audience, which included family members of those killed in the shooting.

Trump to join Senate candidate Hawley in St. Louis fundraiser in March
Kevin McDermott, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

President Donald Trump will travel to St. Louis in mid-March to host a high-dollar, invitation-only fundraiser with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley — an event that could shore up more than just Hawley’s campaign fund. Hawley, widely viewed as the front-runner for this year’s GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has faced talk lately of party dissatisfaction with his campaign, which some say has failed to catch fire.

Bernie blames Hillary for allowing Russian interference
Edward-Isaac Dovere, Politico

Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blamed Hillary Clinton for not doing more to stop the Russian attack on the last presidential election. Then his 2016 campaign manager, in an interview with POLITICO, said he’s seen no evidence to support special counsel Robert Mueller’s assertion in an indictment last week that the Russian operation had backed Sanders’ campaign.

Menendez wants to know if State Dept. played role in Trump Jr.’s visit to India
Max Greenwood, The Hill

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is asking Kenneth Juster, the U.S. ambassador to India, whether the State Department played any role in Donald Trump Jr.’s trip to India. “I expect that the U.S. State Department, including U.S. Embassy Delhi will treat Mr. Trump no differently than it would any other American individual visiting on private business, and will take every effort to avoid any perception of special treatment or a conflict of interest,” Menendez wrote in a letter to Juster.


For some Democrats running for Congress, a strategic navigation of gun issues
Paul Kane, The Washington Post

Democrats have found their latest dose of political adrenaline in the fight over tougher gun restrictions, appearing to have Republicans on the defensive following their slow-moving response to the massacre of 17 at a Florida high school on Feb. 14. But there are also a fair number of Democrats running for Congress with mixed views on the issue, sounding quite different from those in the party who are angling for the 2020 presidential nomination.  

Mike Coffman booed at Greenwood Village town hall as people demand action on guns
Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press

Grumbling and jeers met the request for a moment of silence for the 17 people killed last week in the Florida school shooting. “Let’s do something for them!” one man yelled at the beginning of Republican Rep. Mike Coffman’s town hall Tuesday night in Greenwood Village.

House Oversight Probes Scott Pruitt’s Travel Expenses
Elvina Nawaguna, Roll Call

As questions about the official travel habits of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt mount, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is demanding documents and other information on his first-class flights, as it looks into whether federal laws were broken. Pruitt has for several months been under fire for incurring high travel costs at taxpayer expense.

The Frat House of Representatives
John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade, Politico

Crotch shots. Infidelity.

Flirtatious texts, topless photo roil Steve Montenegro’s campaign; he blasts ‘false tabloid trash’
Ronald J. Hansen and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, The Arizona Republic

Days before Steve Montenegro decided to run for Congress, a state Senate staffer was trading flirtatious text messages with a cellphone number associated with Montenegro, according to a record of the messages viewed by The Arizona Republic. During one exchange in November, while Montenegro was on a work trip in Tennessee, the messages discuss how the staffer could have attended the conference as well.


GOP leaders request hold on Pennsylvania congressional map
Mark Scolforo and Marc Levy, The Associated Press

Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a new congressional district map that is widely considered likely to give Democrats a boost in their quest to capture control of the U.S. House. House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said the state’s highest court usurped legislative authority when it issued the new map on Monday, calling it an unprecedented decision.  

New Maryland system will allow 911 requests via text messages
Michael Dresser and Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland residents who are deaf or have speech disabilities — or anyone with a reason to ask for help silently — could soon use their cellphones to send and receive 911 requests by text. The state Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to approve a $2.4 million contract that will allow emergency responders across Maryland to receive and respond to 911 texts.

Gov. Greitens, allies still have Confide accounts following Capitol purge
Will Schmitt, Springfield News-Leader

Since Gov. Eric Greitens and his staff came under fire for using a cellphone application that deletes text messages upon reading, the governor’s administration says it has forbidden the use of the app. But Greitens’ original Confide account is still active, and many of his allies outside the governor’s office also have Confide accounts, according to a review of phone records obtained by the News-Leader.


Where the N.R.A. Speaks First and Loudest
Jeremy W. Peters and Katie Benner, The New York Times

Whenever there is a mass shooting, the National Rifle Association has a well-rehearsed response: Say very little until the inevitable discussion about gun control cools down. But as the leaders of the country’s most influential gun advocacy group kept quiet after the school shooting last week in Parkland, Fla., that claimed 17 lives, a furious debate played out on NRATV, the organization’s online video channel.  

What was the NRA up to in Florida before the Parkland shooting?
Kirby Wilson, Tampa Bay Times

Venting frustration at the National Rifle Association has become a familiar part of the post-mass shooting news cycle. “Thoughts and prayers” quickly turn into a discussion of the NRA’s influence on lawmakers.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Are you serious about gun control, Mr. Trump? Prove it.
Editorial Board, The Washington Post

President Trump had very little to say about gun control in his first year in office, even after 58 people were killed on the Las Vegas Strip in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history last October. But this week — in the aftermath of the school shooting in South Florida that claimed 17 lives and amid a rising student movement for gun control — Mr. Trump signaled he is open to modest gun-control measures, including a ban on “bump stocks” and improved background checks.

Assault Weapons Preserve the Purpose of the Second Amendment
David French, National Review

Arguments about guns tend to suffer from two distinct problems. The first — and most obvious — is they quickly get screechy.

Both Sides of the Aisle Want Better Roads and Ports
James Inhofe and Sheldon Whitehouse, The Wall Street Journal

During his State of the Union address, President Trump called for a broad bipartisan infrastructure package, pledging to improve the nation’s infrastructure and invest in the future. If you believe the news reports on partisan bickering in Washington, this bipartisan approach might seem impossible.

Is It Possible to Serve Honorably in the Trump Administration?
Daniel Byman, The New York Times 

Is there a duty, even for those who fear how President Trump governs, to serve in the administration? The debate, which began after Mr. Trump’s election, has often been revisited during his presidency, most recently when Rachel Brand resigned this month as associate attorney general.

Research Reports and Polling

American Voters Still Want To See Trump’s Tax Returns, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Approval Dips Back Below 40 Percent
Quinnipiac University

With tax season under way, American voters say 67 – 24 percent that President Donald Trump should publicly release his tax returns, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Every listed party, gender, education, age and racial group, except Republicans, says Trump should release his tax returns.

Americans Not Convinced U.S. Needs to Spend More on Defense
Frank Newport, Gallup

Although the new federal budget significantly increases U.S. defense spending, only a third of Americans believe the government is spending too little on the military. The majority of Americans, as they have for many years, believe the government is spending too much or about the right amount on defense.