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Official Federal Bureau of Prisons photo of U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, where the new round of executions is scheduled to be carried out later this year or next year

Trump’s Always Been A Fan Of The Death Penalty

And now he apparently thinks it’ll be a winning campaign issue

Nobody’s been executed by the federal government in 16 years: that covers a lot of President George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump until now.

But that’s all about to change as Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the execution of 5 federal inmates this morning. Look at the list, and there’s no doubt they’ve all been convicted of grisly, horrible crimes. Still, it’s interesting Trump’s folks have decided to embark on this initiative at a time when capital punishment has long been on the decline in this country. And we think potentially more importantly, when it can be turned into a potent campaign issue against any Democratic candidate (we’ll explain why in a sec.)

Trump hasn’t talked about the death penalty much in his time as President until now, but back in May, 1989 he took out this now-infamous full page ad in all 4 major New York newspapers at the time, calling for its reinstatement in the State of New York for the so-called Central Park 5. Even though by the time Trump placed that ad, there were already serious questions about whether the 5 black teens who had been arrested had actually committed the brutal rape for which they were all eventually cleared. Trump this year was asked whether he would apologize for his ad after Netflix distributed a series about the case. His answer was familiar: “You have people on both sides of that….”

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May 1, 1989

In recent years, executions have been on the wane in this country, down to 25 last year according to the Washington Post, from a high of 98 in 1999. Even some states that allow capital punishment (about 30 do), have been backing away recently for a whole wide range of reasons, including the fact that inmates on death row are disproportionately minorities, and several well publicized disasters involving lethal injections, not to mention the fact the drugs needed for those lethal injections have become much harder to get.

The Trump Administration’s announcement comes as something of a surprise. We suspect it’s one of those things they were keeping up their sleeve just in case the testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller yesterday had turned out to be a bombshell.

We also suspect Trump will tie this at some point to murders and other violent crimes committed by people illegally in the country.

Also remember Trump has repeatedly said he wants to institute the death penalty for drug dealers, where it’d be almost automatic. Even if that’s all mostly rhetoric, he’s now one real step closer. (Of course, Trump also pardoned a convicted drug dealer because Kim Kardashian asked him to).

But we can see an even bigger reason Trump thinks the move to reinstate capital punishment at the federal level will be a winner for him politically. And he may very well be right. It’ll force whomever his Democratic opponent ends up being to argue against executing Charleston church massacre shooter Dylann Roof, and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, both of whom have been sentenced to death. But neither is scheduled for this first new series of executions.

We mean, just take a look at this Tweet from Democratic Presidential candidate Kamala Harris (who we are really starting to think is the person of whom Trump’s most afraid):

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