nyc truck attack
For whatever reason, President Trump sent out a tweet right before midnight on Wednesday weighing in on suspected terrorist Sayfullo Saipov, who allegedly drove a rented truck into a lower Manhattan bike lane, killing eight people and wounding at least 11 others, and was apparently totally unrepentant. "SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!" Trump concluded.
"Presidents are typically advised never to weigh in on pending criminal cases because such comments can be used by defense lawyers to argue that their clients cannot get a fair trial," explains Peter Baker at The New York Times, "especially when the head of the executive branch that will prosecute the charges advocates the ultimate punishment before a judge has heard a single shred of evidence at trial." Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti points to a similar concern:
Still, Baker notes, "Trump has disregarded such advice in other instances, as well." One such instance is at trial right now, in fact. Trump repeatedly called for the execution of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who walked off his Army base in Afghanistan in 2009 and spent the next five years imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban. On Monday, the judge overseeing his sentencing, Army Col. Jeffery Nance, informed the court, "I will consider the president's comments as mitigation evidence as I arrive at an appropriate sentence," meaning Trump's comments will tilt the verdict toward leniency.