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President Donald Trump and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre in the White House in 2017. Photo: Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters Tuesday the U.S. already has "very, very strong background" background checks for guns, as he emphasized mental health issues when asked to clarify his stance following 2 mass shootings this month.

The big picture: The president's comments came as National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said in a Twitter post he had spoken with Trump on Tuesday.

We are very strong on our Second Amendment. ... You know they call it the slippery slope, and all of a sudden everything gets taken away. We’re not going to let that happen."
— President Trump remarks to reporters

Why it matters: Trump's call with LaPierre is the latest sign that his initial motivation to pass meaningful and aggressive legislation in the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton has faded.

  • It shows his relationship with the NRA remains strong, having told the gun right's group's conference in 2017 he "will come through" for them.
  • The New York Times notes that Trump's recent dealings with gun rights advocates "have been a reminder that even if his initial instinct after the mass shootings this month was to say he would press for aggressive gun legislation, any such push would be seen as a betrayal of the NRA members who helped elect him."

What he's saying: When asked by reporters to clarify his position on enhanced background checks, Trump would not comment on the 2 gun control bills that passed in the House earlier this year, other than to say "we are in very meaningful discussions with the Democrats." 

"[W]e’re looking at different things. And I have to tell you that it is a mental problem.  And I’ve said it a hundred times: It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger; it’s the person that pulls the trigger.  These are sick people, and it is also that kind of a problem."

Go deeper:

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Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.

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