Among the many dilemmas a Donald Trump presidency poses for Senate Republicans, reports The Trace, this may be one of the weirder ones: A conservative majority that has invoked Second Amendment rights and NRA grades to obstruct Democratic judicial and executive nominations may soon have to consider Rudy Giuliani, once the right’s loudest gun control advocate, as Trump’s choice for a key cabinet position. As mayor of New York, Giuliani pressed for national gun registration, advocated bans on assault weapons and high-powered handguns, and gave birth to the strategy of suing gun manufacturers for negligence. Would the NRA and Senate GOP apply to Giuliani the same unrelenting pro-gun litmus test they’ve applied to President Obama’s nominees? Or would they suddenly retreat from their principled, uncompromising gun-rights stance in deference to a new Republican administration’s nominee?
Giuliani, the former U.S. attorney and New York mayor who has failed repeatedly to translate his 9/11 fame into higher office, came out early in support of Trump’s candidacy and established himself as one of the campaign’s most lively television proxies. He is said to be under consideration for many positions in the Trump administration, from secretary of state to homeland security director. Giuliani’s nomination would pose a special problem for Senate Republicans, particularly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Since mid-2009 — when President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court — the NRA has graded senators not just on their legislative positions, but on their votes for presidential nominees, as well. More than the lobby’s considerable campaign donations, the NRA’s longstanding practice of grading lawmakers’ gun-friendliness, from “A+” to “F,” has put the onus on Republicans and conservative Democrats to prove their Second Amendment bonafides with affirmative legislation. The scores, and many pro-gun voters’ deference to them, grant the NRA an outsize influence on politicians.