Just days after President Trump suggested he’d like the American justice system to work more like ones in authoritarian countries where drug dealers are executed after “fair but quick” trials, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News viewers that the president is actually “against aggressive sentencing.”
Gidley’s contradictory remarks came less than 24 hours after the president pardoned or commuted the sentences of 11 people, sparking criticism from many who felt Trump was using his powers improperly given the choice of convicts granted clemency.
Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was convicted of tax fraud, and infamous “junk bond king” Michael Milken were among those pardoned.
Trump also commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the former Democratic governor of Illinois who was sent away for a host of crimes including attempting to sell the vacant senate seat of former President Barack Obama. Cameron said the former governor’s record was of particular “distinction.”
Gidley claimed on Wednesday that Trump “is clearly against excessive sentencing, whether it’s Rod Blagojevich or Alice Johnson,” adding that “these are non-violent offenders.”
Nine days after Trump suggested drug dealers should be executed, here’s White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley claiming the president “is clearly against excessive sentencing, whether it’s Rod Blagojevich or Alice Johnson … these are non-violent offenders.” pic.twitter.com/c7c6jzI6Iv
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 19, 2020
But Trump raised eyebrows nine days earlier when he said the best way to further reduce the quantity of fentanyl in the US is to follow China’s lead.
“States with a very powerful death penalty on drug dealers don’t have a drug problem,” Trump said during a White House event with governors. “I don’t know that our country is ready for that, but if you look throughout the world, the countries with a powerful death penalty — death penalty — with a fair but quick trial, they have very little if any drug problem. That includes China.”
Trump suggests he’d like to model American criminal law on drug dealing on authoritarian systems like China, where dealers are executed: “Countries with a powerful death penalty, with a fair but quick trial, they have very little if any drug problem. That includes China.” pic.twitter.com/9WprysjJAX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 10, 2020
His remarks came just days after his Super Bowl ad and State of the Union speech highlighted his support for legislation that makes a modest effort to reduce prison sentences at the federal level, reports VOX.
It should be noted that Trump’s claim about China and other authoritarian countries having “very little if any drug problem” is false. Records from the Chinese government indicate that there are more than 2.5 million officially registered drug users in the country, and that the total has increased significantly in recent years. (The real numbers are likely much higher since not all drug users have registered with the state.)