WASHINGTON (CNN) — Donald Trump’s campaign chairman said Sunday the Republican presidential nominee’s comments last week that gun advocates could deal with Hillary Clinton should not be interpreted as a threat.
“Most people did not interpret it that way, it was not at all meant to be a threat,” Paul Manafort told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
Manafort said the attention on the comments were the “Clinton narrative” being carried by the media, despite criticism from some Republicans and even a Trump supporter at the rally who thought the comments shouldn’t have been said in public.
“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” Trump said on Tuesday.
Manafort said he never interpreted the remarks as a threat.
“His point about the Second Amendment was that people who care about the Second Amendment should be concerned about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, and those who are concerned can take up the cause,” Manafort said.
Tapper also asked Manafort about why Trump still won’t release his tax returns, despite Clinton releasing hers along with vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine. Trump’s running mate Mike Pence has also said he will release his.
Trump has said he will not release returns that are under audit, and Tapper asked why he won’t release the 2008 returns that are no longer under audit.
“There’s nothing that (he) doesn’t want the public to see,” Manafort said. “Mr. Trump’s position has been clear from the beginning, he’s under audit, when the audit is finished he’ll release his returns.”
Manafort was also asked to respond to comments by the campaign’s New York co-chair, businessman Carl Paladino, disparaging the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, saying his father, Khizr Khan, doesn’t deserve the title of Gold Star parent, a term for those parents of military personnel killed in action.
“Mr. Khan supports this ISIS-type attitude against America,” Paladino had said, though there is no evidence of that. Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention and was sharply critical of Trump and his positions on immigration and Muslims.
Manafort said he wasn’t aware of the comments, and that he’d look into it.
“I don’t know about the quote, I’d have to check into the situation,” Manafort said. “Certainly Mr. Trump has made it very clear he recognizes the sacrifices of all Gold Star parents and he empathizes with that loss.”