Political News

Trump reflects on Parkland massacre ahead of anniversary

Posted February 13, 2019 1:32 p.m. EST
Updated February 13, 2019 5:11 p.m. EST

— President Donald Trump on reflected on the upcoming one-year anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, during a law enforcement conference on Wednesday, saying his administration has made strides in ensuring school safety.

"Tomorrow is also the one-year anniversary of the horrific Parkland shooting. We cannot imagine the sorrow and suffering the Parkland families have endured. Our entire nation mourns for the victims and their loved ones," Trump said during a speech at the Major County Sheriffs and Major Cities Chiefs Association Joint Conference in Washington.

"We pledge our unwavering resolve to work with the leaders in this room to secure our nation's schools and everywhere else," he said.

Trump then detailed some of the steps his administration took in the wake of the shooting.

"We enacted the Fix NICS Act and Stop School Violence Act, which gives grants to schools and law enforcement to improve safety. My administration also formed a school safety commission that recently released its official report, which includes nearly 100 detailed recommendations that really work and really make sense," he said.

The commission Trump referred to has garnered scrutiny for not turning its attention to guns and recommending an end to Obama-era school discipline policies.

The President, in his remarks, also praised the federal conviction of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

"Just two days ago, with the help of DEA, ICE and the FBI -- we have such incredible people and you saw this -- federal prosecutors secured a conviction against the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin Guzman or El Chapo," he said, though Guzman was convicted Tuesday.

"He is now looking at a lifetime behind bars. And I have to say the prosecutors did an incredible job -- Eastern District. Incredible job," he added. "But to defeat these transnational gangs, we must fully and completely secure the border."

They were the first public remarks he's given since CNN reported that he intends to sign the border security deal to avoid another partial government shutdown, according to two sources who have spoken directly with the President.

The agreement, which includes $1.375 billion for a border barrier, falls well short of the $5.7 billion Trump originally demanded for a wall.

During his afternoon speech, Trump briefly touched on border security negotiations with Congress, pledging that he "will never waver" from his "sacred duty" to protect the US.

"As we review the new proposal from Congress, I can promise you this. I will never waver from my sacred duty to defend this nation and its people. We will get the job done," Trump said. "The wall is very, very -- on its way. It's happening, as we speak. We're building as we speak."

Earlier Wednesday, Trump wouldn't say whether he plans to sign the deal, but indicated he does not want another shutdown ahead of the Friday funding deadline.

"Well, we haven't gotten (the legislative text) yet. We'll be getting it, we'll be looking for landmines," Trump told reporters, referring to possible surprises in the final bill.

"We'll take a very serious look at it," he added.

The President also attended the conference in 2017, using his opening lines to defend the travel ban he was attempting to instate.

"This was done, very importantly, for security -- something you people know more about than all of us," Trump said at the time. "It was done for the security of our nation, the security of our citizens, so that people come in who aren't going to do us harm."

Last year, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Major County Sheriffs of America opposed a Trump administration endorsed criminal justice reform bill called the First Step Act. The group later withdrew opposition to the legislation, writing in a letter to Jared Kushner, Trump's top aide and son-in-law who helped broker the deal, dated Tuesday that they endorse the law's objectives.