Donald Trump campaign national spokesperson Katrina Pierson went on MSNBC Wednesday to continue her attempts to explain away a comment by the Republican candidate, who seemed to imply that his supporters should assassinate Hillary Clinton. Program host Kate Snow told Pierson that another campaign source told NBC News correspondent Katy Tur that Trump’s comments were meant to be “a joke.” Pierson denied this and maintained that Trump was only attempting to invoke the “political power” of the NRA:
“Well I’m not sure where the joke narrative came from, but the campaign itself issued a statement last night talking about the political power of the NRA. This is after all the oldest continuous operating civil rights organization in the United States, it’s been active for over 144 years. It’s one of the top three political groups in Washington D.C. And with 93 million voters and people in the country who own guns legally, there have been massive, massive support for the second amendment and for the NRA specifically. I mean Kate, they have written, they have produced documentaries on how powerful the NRA is in Washington D.C.”
“I don’t think anyone denies that,” Snow replied, already seeming baffled. “They have a lot of power. But that’s not what Donald Trump said yesterday.” The reporter played the clip of Trump again; in it, he imagines a world in which Hillary Clinton is the president and has begun to appoint Supreme Court justices. “Nothing you can do, folks,” he says. “Although the second amendment people, maybe there is, I dunno.”
“What is he suggesting?” Snow asked Pierson. The spokeswoman replied, “The NRA is a bipartisan organization. And that is also left out of the discussion in the media.” She went on to discuss the NRA’s ability to block Senate appointments. “They have been able to stop senators from appointing people that are hostile to the second amendment, and that’s what he’s talking about,” she said.
Snow reminded Pierson that someone else from the campaign had said that Trump’s comments were intended as a joke. “You’re not saying it’s a joke at all; it wasn’t about inciting violence at all?” she asked. Pierson replied, “I haven’t seen anyone from the campaign say that it was a joke. The initial statement said nothing about a joke. So I’m not even sure where Katy’s getting that information.”
Snow played an excerpt of retired General Michael Haydon, former head of the CIA, saying that “If someone [besides Donald Trump] had said that outside the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him.” When Snow asked whether Trump should be held responsible for making careless remarks that get misinterpreted, Pierson said no, “because it’s being reinforced by the media.”
“If he had control over the liberal news networks, absolutely. But he does not. And that’s another reason why were talking about this today, because they have picked out a piece of what he was talking about in the greater context of a topic he’s talked about in every single rally. And that is the power of the NRA, and that is the ability for Hillary Clinton, if elected, would support candidates at the Supreme Court that would actually strip the rights piece by piece from law abiding citizens and their ability to defend themselves.”
But the bit that left Snow tongue tied was still to come. “You have no concern about his ability as president… to make an argument with foreign leaders, in negotiations, and not be misconstrued and misunderstood?” she asked. “Absolutely not,” Pierson replied. “I have no concerns with that whatsoever. He’s not going to be dealing with foreign leaders at a political rally.” Snow asked what the difference was between a president’s speech at a political rally vs. speech among foreign leaders. “He wasn’t talking about policy,” Pierson said. “He wasn’t talking about implementation of policy. He was talking about what would happen if Hillary Clinton were to be elected and he’s absolutely right.”
There was a long pause. “I’m speechless because I’m trying to follow your logic here, Katrina, and I’m having a hard time. There’s a difference in your head between speaking to a rally, and things you say in front of a public group like that, and what he’s going to do when he’s actually in office?”
Pierson, true to form, responded by talking about Benghazi.