Trump doubles down with signing statement
Resolution sought to condemn racists
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.