To appease the NRA, Trump signed a document withdrawing the United States from a United Nations small arms treaty that Congress never even ratified.
On Friday afternoon, Trump stood before the NRA annual convention and pretended to withdraw the United States from the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
Trump stumbled his way through explaining why, exactly, he was opposed to the treaty.
"This treaty threatened your ... subjugate ... and, you know, exactly what's going on here. Your rights. And your constitutional and international rules. And restrictions and regulations," Trump said.
Trump eventually started using complete sentences.
"We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your second amendment freedoms. And that is why my administration will never ratify the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty," he said.
"I hope you're happy," he added.
In reality, the United States was never a part of the treaty. President Obama signed the treaty in 2013, but it was never ratified by the Senate. And with NRA-backed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leading the Senate, there seemed to be little possibility of the treaty being ratified anytime soon.
Even before Trump's stunt, the treaty had little teeth since neither China nor Russia were a party to it.
But Trump never lets reality get in the way of television-ready signing ceremonies. An L.A. Times investigation looked at 101 signing ceremonies Trump held during his first two years in office, and found that most of the orders he signed were "more ceremonial than substantive."
Many of Trump's signing ceremonies could have been replaced with phone calls to Cabinet secretaries and gotten the same thing accomplished. "You don't really need an executive order for a lot of this stuff, but it makes for a good show," Elaine Kamarck, a Clinton administration official, told the Times.
For example, in 2017 Trump held a photo-op where he signed a letter to Congress promoting his idea to privatize air traffic controllers. Trump relished in the pomp and circumstance of the event, but in the end, the letter had no practical effect.
And two years later, Trump is up to his same tricks to try to keep the NRA — which spent $35 million helping Trump get elected — happy.
But in the end, Trump paraded around stage holding up a document with his signature in a made-for-TV moment that will have no real impact.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.