Trump Tweets About Death Penalty For NYC Terror Suspect Could Totally Ruin His Plan
On two separate occasions, President Donald Trump has used Twitter to call for the man suspected of committing a terror attack in Manhattan to receive the death penalty. On both occasions, the president's words have been met by virtual face palms and warnings that Trump's public cry for a death sentence could become an obstacle for the prosecution. The headlines Trump's tweets about a death penalty have generated tell the story themselves.
On Thursday morning, Nov. 2, the New York Times shared its own report with a caption: "Trump tweeted that the Manhattan attack suspect "SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!" The remark could haunt prosecutors." CNBC also shared a report on the president's tweets with a similar caption: "Trump double downs that alleged NYC terrorist should get 'DEATH PENALTY!' That may hurt prosecution."
Media members, too, were quick to opine that the president's words were unwise.
"Comments like this can be used by defense attorneys to argue that their clients cannot get a fair trial," wrote MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin.
"I've run out of adjectives," said Washington Free Beacon reporter Alex Griswold. "By weighing in like this, Trump may have just assured he DOESN'T get the death penalty."
And on and on they went:
What Trump Said
The reactions all alluded to potential implications for prosecutors who could face the Manhattan terror suspect in court, and were all made in response to three tweets the president sent out between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
The first time Trump called for the death penalty, he wrote, "NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!"
In the morning, the president commented on the same subject, this time with a pair of tweets:
Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system ... There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!
The tweets attracted scrutiny, including from legal experts, that all expressed a basic sentiment: The president was pre-judging the trial, and that could complicated matters by providing a means for the defense to argue it is not receiving a fair trial.
That the idea of a president president pre-judging is taboo was made apparent during the last administration as well. Back in 2009, when there was criticism of the fact that five suspected terrorists would be facing trial in New York (instead of a military court), former President Obama offered a response that drew attention.
"I don’t think it will be offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him" Obama said at the time. The former president then backtracked, however, making it clear that he wasn't trying to do what critics are warning Trump to avoid today.
"What I said was people will not be offended if that’s outcome. I‘m not pre-judging," Obama said.
Trump's tweets about the death penalty aren't the only comments he's made about his displeasure with the legal process the Manhattan terror suspect could face. On Wednesday, the president also called the process "a joke," telling reporters,
We also have to come up with punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They'll go through court for years. And at the end, they'll be — who knows what happens. We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it's a laughingstock.
The terror suspect who was arrested on Monday, Oct. 30, is a 29-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan who is thought to be responsible for the eight deaths and other injuries that occurred near Manhattan's West Side highway.