Maria Bartiromo, a Fox Business Network host, grilled White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Thursday over whether President Donald Trump is “ignoring the Constitution” by appearing to side with Democrats and gun control activists after the February 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
During an interview on “Mornings with Maria,” Bartiromo pointed to Trump’s bipartisan congressional meeting Wednesday in which various pieces of gun control legislation and reforms were discussed. The president shocked the nation when he accused GOP lawmakers of being “afraid” and “petrified” of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and said, “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
“Kellyanne, obviously, this is a very troubling comment,” Bartiromo said. “What did the president mean exactly by that? Is he ignoring the Constitution? And taking someone’s property before due process?”
Conway insisted the president wasn’t ignoring the Constitution. She said he “respects the Constitution, including the Second Amendment and the 5 million or so members of the NRA who are law-abiding, peaceful gun owners.”
“The president is saying that sometimes the process takes too long,” Conway said, pointing to the systemic failures that led to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and its 17 victims. “He’s talking about a case such as this, which we hope is an extreme case, but we all should agree is a very tragic, if not avoidable, case.”
Dissatisfied, Bartiromo pressed the White House counselor further, asking if Trump is “going to clarify that he, in fact, is not going to ignore the Constitution and take somebody’s property before due process?”
Conway didn’t address Bartiromo’s question directly and pivoted into talking about the kinds of reforms Trump would support.
“The point here, Maria, is school safety. Anybody who thinks, anybody who came here to the White House yesterday and thinks the session was about gun grabbing or gun control is mistaken and they know it,” Conway said. “This is about school safety. We need to harden those targets.”
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Bartiromo said Trump “did a very good job with the listening sessions” he held with shooting survivors and their parents, but she added, “I almost feel like yesterday he was trying so hard to appear that he is willing — he is going to be in the middle of the road.”
“But doesn’t he have to be careful not to step on due process? This is America. The Constitution,” Bartiromo added. “And what he said — I almost feel like it was for the cameras. I mean, you’re saying that he didn’t mean that.”
Conway bristled, insisting this wasn’t what she said at all. But Bartiromo continued to accuse the president of “blowing off due process” and the Constitution.
“This is the third time I’m going to say it — this is in response to that shooter in Parkland,” Conway said. “And the president is saying … why didn’t we go in and get the guns from this person first?”
But Trump’s comments alarmed the NRA and other Second Amendment advocates.
“While today’s meeting made for great TV, the gun control proposals discussed would make for bad policy that would not keep our children safe,” the NRA told CNN in a statement Wednesday. “Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a deranged lunatic, our leaders should pass meaningful reforms that would actually prevent future tragedies.”
Presidential historian and Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley asked, “What happened to due process?” during an interview Thursday morning on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
“I mean, I assume [Trump’s] read the Constitution. But maybe it would be worthwhile for him to reread the Constitution,” Shirley said.