Trump dou­bles down with sign­ing state­ment

Res­o­lu­tion sought to con­demn racists

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Gregory Korte @gre­go­ryko­rte USA TO­DAY

WASHINGTON In send­ing the pres­i­dent a joint res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing “racist vi­o­lence” in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, Congress gave Pres­i­dent Trump a choice: Sign the res­o­lu­tion and re­ject white su­prem­a­cists, or veto and align with the far right.

Trump chose a third op­tion: Sign it — but with a sign­ing state­ment at­tached.

The pres­i­den­tial sign­ing state­ment has long been a con­tro­ver­sial pres­i­den­tial tool that al­lows pres­i­dents to sign bills even as they at­tempt to rein­ter­pret them.

But Trump’s use of a sign­ing state­ment on a non-bind­ing sense-of-Congress res­o­lu­tion may break new ground, ex­perts say.

“This is ex­tra­or­di­nary,” said Christo­pher Kel­ley, a Miami Univer­sity po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist who has stud­ied pres­i­den­tial state­ments. “It is one of the weird­est, rarest uses of a sign­ing state­ment that I know of.”

The res­o­lu­tion urged the pres­i­dent to specif­i­cally “speak out against hate groups that es­pouse racism, ex­trem­ism, xeno­pho­bia, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy.”

Trump signed the res­o­lu­tion late Thurs­day. His sign­ing state­ment said Amer­i­cans “op­pose ha­tred, big­otry, and racism in all forms.” But just as his ini­tial state­ments on Char­lottesville blamed “all sides” for the fa­tal vi­o­lence, Trump’s state­ment didn’t con­demn any spe­cific group.

“It is ironic that this bill is in re­sponse to Trump’s tone-deaf com­ments about ‘all sides,’ and then when he signs this state­ment, he re­peats the very thing that sparked the con­tro­versy in the first place,” Kel­ley said.

In­deed, some mem­bers of Congress sug­gested that the sign­ing state­ment showed a lack of sin­cer­ity by the pres­i­dent.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the spon­sor of the res­o­lu­tion, said he was pleased the pres­i­dent signed it, but “un­for­tu­nately he still equiv­o­cates when he speaks,” he tweeted.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Pres­i­dent Trump

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