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Tipsheet

Clinton Camp Dodges On Whether to Seek Death Penalty for Charleston Murderer

The Bernie Sanders campaign did not hesitate to respond when the Department of Justice announced last week that it was going to pursue the death penalty for Charleston murderer Dylann Roof. In an email to The Huffington Post, who asked both Democratic candidates to weigh in, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs wrote, "Sanders opposes the death penalty.” 

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The editors have yet to receive a straightforward answer from Hillary Clinton. 

The Huffington Post first posed the question to Clinton’s campaign on May 25, one day after the Justice Department made its announcement. We followed up twice that day, and once the day after. We tried again this Sunday and Monday.

The campaign only responded to one of those emails, and did so off the record — but needless to say, it didn’t answer the question.

Last year, Roof, a young man suspected of being sympathetic to white supremacist groups, walked into a Charleston church and murdered nine people who were ready to pray for him. It was a horrific tragedy that eventually convinced Gov. Nikki Haley to lead the effort to take down the state's confederate flag.

HuffPo, like many voters no doubt, believes that this tragedy demands some kind of response from the presidential candidates. Yet, once again, Clinton is giving us another example of her lack of transparency.

Interestingly, Clinton's husband introduced a piece of legislation during his presidency that could very well determine how the court decides Roof's sentencing - something that ThinkProgress reminded readers about last week.

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That changed in 1994, when President Bill Clinton’s Federal Death Penalty Act greatly expanded the list of offenses for which federal defendants can face the death penalty. There are currently 54 people on federal death row, sentenced after Clinton’s expansive crime bill. Roof would bring that number up to 55 if convicted.

This context makes Hillary's silence even more awkward and unacceptable. 

As a rule, anyone running for president should know how to give a simple "yes" or "no" answer.

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