The former president wants to expand the use of the death penalty, and expand the federal government’s options for carrying out death sentences

Former President Donald Trump had been widely discussing with “close associates” ahead of his 2024 presidential campaign bringing back the death penalty, expanding the execution methods used by the federal government, and even broadcasting executions as a means to deter violent crime and drug dealers, Rolling Stone reported on Tuesday, citing multiple sources close to Trump.

Rolling Stone’s Asawin Suebsaeng and Patrick Reis write that Trump has been regularly asking those around him, “What do you think of firing squads?”

The article adds that “Trump has talked about bringing back death by firing squad, by hanging, and, according to two of the sources, possibly even by guillotine. He has also, sources say, discussed group executions. Trump has floated these ideas while discussing planned campaign rhetoric and policy desires, as well as his disdain for President Biden’s approach to crime.”

“He has even, one of the sources recounts, mused about televising footage of executions, including showing condemned prisoners in the final moments of their lives,” noted the article.

Trump’s comments on the death penalty and desire for the federal government to use hangings and firing squads shouldn’t come as a surprise. In August 2020, at Trump’s direction the Department of Justice proposed a new rule allowing for the federal government to “hang, electrocute, gas, or shoot individuals if it does not want to kill them by lethal injection,” reported Slate at the time.

Additionally, in Trump’s last year in office, he executed more Americans than all the states combined and the most of any president in 120 years.

The Rolling Stone article, however, reports that in a second Trump term, the former president would like to publicize those executions as much as possible:

In at least one instance late last year, according to the third source, who has direct knowledge of the matter, Trump privately mused about the possibility of creating a flashy, government-backed video-ad campaign that would accompany a federal revival of these execution methods. In Trump’s vision, these videos would include footage from these new executions, if not from the exact moments of death.

“The [former] president believes this would help put the fear of God into violent criminals. He wanted to do some of these [things] when he was in office, but for whatever reasons didn’t have the chance,” the source is quoted as saying.

A Trump spokesman denied the claims to Rolling Stone, calling them, “More ridiculous and fake news from idiots who have no idea what they’re talking about, either these people are fabricating lies out of thin air, or Rolling Stone is allowing themselves to be duped by these morons.”

However, on the topic of more hangings and firing squad executions the Trump spokesman “referred” Rolling Stone to Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement, which read, “Every drug dealer during his or her life, on average, will kill 500 people with the drugs they sell, not to mention the destruction of families. We’re going to be asking everyone who sells drugs, gets caught selling drugs, to receive the death penalty for their pain.”

Trump has long called for the execution of drug dealers. In an October rally, he told the enthusiastic crowd, “And if [the drug dealer is] guilty, they get executed, and they send the bullet to the family and they want the family to pay for the cost of the bullet. If you want to stop the drug epidemic in this country, you better do that … [even if] it doesn’t sound nice.”

Rolling Stone spoke with a former Trump White House official, who also detailed some of Trump’s firsthand comments on the topic and his desire for a justice system that involved physical punishment:

In conversations I’d been in the room for, President Trump would explicitly say that he’d love a country that was totally an ‘eye for an eye’ — that’s a direct quote — criminal-justice system, and he’d talk about how the ‘right’ way to do it is to line up criminals and drug dealers before a firing squad. You just got to kill these people.

He had a particular affinity for the firing squad, because it seemed more dramatic, rather than how we do it, putting a syringe in people and putting them to sleep. He was big on the idea of executing large numbers of drug dealers and drug lords because he’d say, ‘These people don’t care about anything,’ and that they run their drug empire and their deals from prison anyways, and then they get back out on the street, get all their money again, and keep committing crimes … and therefore, they need to be eradicated, not jailed.

Read the full article from Rolling Stone here


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