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Trump’s gun leanings line up with those favored in polls

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, right, and President

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, right, and President Donald Trump listen as Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill speaks during a Feb. 22, 2018, meeting at the White House with state and local officials to discuss school safety. Credit: AP / Evan Vucci

Paths of least resistance

A CNN poll released Sunday showed that 70% of Americans now favor stricter gun laws — the highest level since 1993 and a big jump since the Florida school shootings.

But when the questions get down specifics, the numbers vary. As it happens, the answers Americans want most are ones President Donald Trump has signaled he will support.

The survey found 87% favor banning felons and those with mental health problems from getting guns. So does Trump, he says.

Anyone under 21 shouldn’t be allowed to buy a firearm, said 71% of those polled. Trump’s on board too.

But it doesn’t look like Trump would go along with the smaller 63% majority who would ban high-capacity magazines or the 57% who think all semi-automatic weapons should be outlawed. Trump’s focus is on “dangerous individuals,” not weapons, White House spokesman Raj Shah told Fox News.

One Trump idea out of sync with public opinion: arming teachers. It was opposed 50% to 44% in a CBS News poll last week. The latest word from Trump on that: Leave it “up to states.”

No retreat by NRA

Issues of gun control and protecting schools dominated Sunday’s talk shows. The National Rifle Association remained dug in against any new restrictions.

NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” reiterated the organization’s opposition to raising the age to purchase firearms to 21 or a ban on bump stocks. But Loesch liked the idea of arming teachers.

See the story for Newsday by Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Scott Eidler.

Janison: Big fry

When George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, emerged as a cooperating witness for special counsel Robert Mueller, the president’s defenders played down his significance, calling him a volunteer “coffee boy.”

But there’s no discounting the importance of Rick Gates, the deputy campaign chairman who stayed on with Trump’s team through the inauguration — and whose decision to plead guilty and flip tightens the squeeze on former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

The unusual suspects

Two weeks after Trump blocked its full release, the House Intelligence Committee published a partially blacked-out version of a classified Democratic memo that seeks to debunk a GOP version, which portrayed an FBI-Justice Department conspiracy against the Trump campaign.

Among the notable details in Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff’s version, as analyzed by The Washington Post:

Before the FBI ever saw the controversial Russia dossier from Christopher Steele, four Trump campaign figures already were under investigation: Carter Page, the Russia-connected foreign policy adviser; Papadopoulos; Manafort; and Michael Flynn, who went on be Trump’s national security adviser.

Also, the warrant for surveillance of Page — the focus of GOP attacks — was approved by four Republican-appointed judges

Heads bang against The Wall

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called off a tentative plans to visit Trump at the White House before the end of March after an angry call between the two leaders, U.S. and Mexican officials told The Washington Post.

Peña Nieto wanted Trump to acknowledge Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive. Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise.

Omission accomplished

When Trump hears what he want to hear, or just doesn’t care about getting it right, it can go very wrong. Like when Trump cited a Fox News report over the weekend to attack the Democratic author of the memo rebutting the Nunes memo.

“Congressman Schiff omitted and distorted key facts” @FoxNews So, what else is new. He is a total phony!” Trump tweeted.

What the Fox report actually said: “Congressman Schiff, he argues the Republican memo omitted and distorted key facts.”

What else is happening:

  • The White House said it would wait and see whether a new overture by North Korea for talks with the United States means it is serious about negotiating an end to its nuclear weapons program.
  • Ivanka Trump, leading the U.S. delegation at the closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics, applauded for North and South Korean athletes. She did not interact with a North Korean general seated nearby.
  • Conservative author Mona Charen, who stirred up the C-PAC conference with a dissenting speech, said she spoke for "those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism."
  • A second federal judge has ruled that the Trump Administration cannot keep stalling clean-air rules for oil and gas production on federal lands. 
  • Two favored aides of the president, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, are battling over who should lead the establishment of rules and policies related to the new tax law, Politico reports.
  • In a phone interview with Fox News, Trump said Democrats who oppose his border security demands “want to protect MS-13.”
  • Also in the interview, Trump said Veterans Day is probably the preferred date for the military parade he wants the Pentagon to stage on Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Trump wants John Dunkin, his longtime personal pilot before he became president, to head the FAA, Axios reports.
  • Trump will attend the funeral of the Rev. Billy Graham in North Carolina Friday, the White House announced.
  • Trump Organization managers at a luxury hotel in Panama are fighting an effort by the hotel owners’ association to physically evict them. Police were called to keep the peace.

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