Late Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter about what he thinks should happen to Sayfullo Saipov, the man who was arrested on Tuesday after he drove a truck into pedestrians in New York City. Trump tweeted that he thinks Saipov "SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!", as since he seemed "happy" in the hospital and asked for an ISIS flag.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017
Federal terrorism charges have been filed against Saipov, and those charges are punishable with death. However, he may escape a death sentence if he agrees to plead guilty as part of a plea bargain.
Trump was criticized by many for his tweet, which could potentially be seen as tainting a jury pool. In the case against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, his lawyers argued (unsuccessfully) that the case should be thrown out because of then-candidate Trump's similar comments. The judge declined to dismiss the case, but said that Trump's statements would be considered to be a mitigating factor in sentencing.
Why are you tainting the jury pool this way? We all agree the guy should fry, but what are you thinking?https://t.co/of5R4Djsdp— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) November 2, 2017
"Our justice system is a joke! I'll prove it--watch this!"— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) November 2, 2017
<taints jury pool because he's bored and nothing's on>
This tweet will make things much easier for Saipov's defense lawyer https://t.co/hPvjEDyb8A— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) November 2, 2017
I've run out of adjectives. By weighing in like this, Trump may have just assured he DOESN'T get the death penalty. https://t.co/rZPYR9LeuI— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) November 2, 2017
To be blunt: President Trump should not have tweeted this. He's no longer a private citizen, he's the leader of a country. His words have consequences--look at the Bergdahl trial. (And those comments were made before he was president.) Saipov is a terrorist who probably should go to jail for the rest of his life. That's not the issue at hand. Trump could have just made things needlessly complicated in fewer than 140 characters, and that's a big problem.