Trump backs off sending NYC terrorist to 'Gitmo' but again pushes death penalty against legal advice

  • President Donald Trump backed down from saying he’d consider sending Sayfullo Saipov, the NYC Halloween attack suspect, to Guantanamo Bay,
  • Trump repeated his call for the death penalty, but experts say he may be hurting the chances of Saipove being sentenced to death.
  • Trump been critical of the US justice system and immigration laws, and has used the terror attack to renew his calls for ending the immigration program Saipov used to enter the country.

President Donald Trump again tweeted in support of the death sentence for 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in the Halloween terror attack that killed eight in Manhattan, but backed off sending Saipov to Guantanamo Bay.

“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!” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.

Trump’s Thursday morning tweets echo his previous support for the death penalty for Saipov on Wednesday, but backed off his support for sending the alleged terrorist to Guantanamo Bay, the prison the US maintains in Cuba that began detaining suspected terrorists indefinitely without trial in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on the US.

Trump pointed to Saipov’s apparent glibness from his hospital bed and his request to hang the ISIS flag in his hospital room.

Trump has also been critical lately of the US justice system, saying it takes too long to punish criminals. “We have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” Trump said on Wednesday, adding that “what we have right now is a joke and a laughing stock.”

“Send him to Gitmo — I would certainly consider that,” Trump continued at the same press appearance, using a nickname for Guantanamo.

But legal experts argue that Trump’s public support for giving Saipov the death penalty may actually make that sentence harder to reach in court.

Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov@DaveDMarko/TwitterSayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov.

“Mr. President, we all know he should get the death penalty. But when *you* say it, it makes it harder for DOJ to make that happen,” tweeted Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“This is called potentially tainting jury pool & could impact alleged perpetrator’s ability to secure fair trial,” national security lawyer Mark Zaid said.

Since the Tuesday terror attack, Trump has also come out against the diversity visa program, which Saipov used to enter the country. The program offers visas to immigrants from countries with “historically low rates of immigration to the United States.”

Uzbekistan, where Saipov comes from, is one such country that receives some of the roughly 50,000 visas.

Trump has instead promoted the RAISE Act, a merit-based and allows immigrants into the country based on their education level and earning potential, among other things. The bill has little support from the majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

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