President Donald Trump on Tuesday renewed his call for individuals convicted of killing police officers to receive the death penalty, but his White House has yet to produce a proposal to turn his campaign pledge into policy.
During the 2016 presidential election, candidate Trump often vowed, if elected, to sign an executive order that he contended would force convicted cop killers to be put to death. He renewed that call in December. But he has yet to sign such an executive action and his administration has yet to send Congress legislative language on the matter.
“We’re not going to let bad things happen to our police,” Trump said Tuesday at the Capitol during a ceremony honoring fallen U.S. law enforcement officers. “We believe criminals who kill our police should get the death penalty.
“Bring it forth,” roared Trump, who during the 2016 campaign declared himself the race’s lone “law and order” candidate.
The Trump administration’s lack of policy movement on mandating the death penalty for convicted cop killers underscores, as the independent fact-checking organization PolitiFact put it, how it is “a very complicated idea with substantial legal barriers.”
“The death penalty is legal at the federal level and sentencing is a matter of congressional legislation, not presidential decree,” PolitiFact wrote last year. “It is unclear how Trump’s potential executive action could be used to impose the death penalty. There are no federal or state laws that say prosecutors must seek the death penalty.”
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The idea is among many the president often touts but his Cabinet heads and senior White House aides rarely — if ever — tout.
Meantime, he also used the event to return to another favorite campaign-trail target: the MS-13 criminal organization.
Trump blasted the gang for recently calling for the killing of New York City police officers so its members could “take back the streets.”
“They’ve got it wrong,” the president said. “We are the ones who are taking back our streets. We are getting them out of our country by the thousands.”
He claimed his administration frequently sets “new records” on MS-13 member deportations, but did not provide supporting data.
The president also lauded his administration for helping local and state law enforcement entities obtain “millions and millions of dollars of surplus military equipment,” which he says is necessary to save officers’ lives.
His remarks were almost completely devoid of new policy proposals or calls for legislation, but he did urge lawmakers to send him a bill that would “secure our border” and “shut down sanctuary cities” while also preventing the release of “violent criminals.”
“Enough is enough,” he said of each.
Trump was not the only senior administration official to return to the “law and order” rhetoric of the 2016 campaign. Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke minutes before Trump, employed a line that echoed the Trump-Pence campaign’s description of a country in which its citizens are not safe.
“I know,” the former GOP House member from Indiana and Hoosier State governor said, “that we will make America safe again.”