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US Politics: Trumps calls for death penalty for New York attacker

President Trump has been criticised for his immediate harsh stance on the New York attack, calling for use of the death penalty.
President Trump has been criticised for his immediate harsh stance on the New York attack, calling for use of the death penalty.
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US President Donald Trump has called for the death penalty for the attacker who killed eight people in New York, but many have criticised his response. The Tradefair team brings you the latest news from the US...

"Under due process, this individual, like it or not, came into the US legally, is a lawful permanent resident and has rights under the Constitution."

- Republican Rep. Mike McCaul, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Donald Trump has called for the death penalty to be used against the attacker who killed eight people in New York earlier this week (October 31).

The US President has been criticised for his response, which has focused on stricter visa vetting and the most severe punishment for the attacker, rather than on sending condolences to the families affected.

Alleged attacker Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov drove his truck into a crowd of people, killing eight and injuring 11 more.

A severe response

In the hours after the incident, Trump lashed out at the "animal" behind the truck attack, threatening to throw him in Guantanamo Bay. He also pledged to remove the visa diversity programme that had allowed him entry to the US and called the justice system a "laughingstock".

"Diversity lottery. Sounds nice. It's not nice. It's not good," Trump said at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The President's critics have compared this response to that given to the Las Vegas attacks, where 59 people died. It was the biggest mass shooting in American history, but Trump was much more relaxed when the issue of gun reform was raised in the aftermath of the event.

Many people have suggested this is because the man behind the shooting was white, while Saipov was a Muslim immigrant who makes an easy scapegoat for the President who has already tried to implement a travel ban.

US resident or enemy combatant?

"We need punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now," he said, before adding that Saipov might go to Guantanamo Bay, which holds suspects caught abroad.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that Saipov is considered an "enemy combatant", which would deny him legal representation.

However, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Republican Rep. Mike McCaul said the law is based on the Constitution.

Speaking on the 'Situation Room', he said: "Under due process, this individual, like it or not, came into the US legally, is a lawful permanent resident and has rights under the Constitution."

Trump has also been blamed for politicising the event, blaming the Democrats for the attack.

Tainted jury pool

His approach has been a significant contrast to his predecessor Barack Obama, who was criticised for his measured response following terror attacks. Obama's reasoning was that reacting with anger helped terrorists who want to divide Americans and spread indiscriminate fear.

Trump has also not made any distinction between the alleged attacker who yelled "God is great" in Arabic after the assault and the majority of Muslims who do not endorse such violence.

There are now concerns that the US President's comments on the legal system and the proposed designation of Saipov as an "enemy combatant" could interfere with his trial.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti accused Trump of helping the alleged terrorist.

He tweeted: "Trump helped the terrorist with this tweet. Now prosecutors will have to spend time dealing with motions that the jury pool is tainted."

The Cut, Cut, Cut Act?

The President's latest comments have served to take attention away from his tax reform. Reports suggest that the bill may have a less-than-traditional name, with Trump wanting to call it the "Cut, Cut, Cut Act".

Other Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, want the bill's name to reflect that it's a package of reforms.

Regardless of what its official title may be, the tax reform is doing nothing to improve Trump's popularity, according to a new poll from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). It found that his job approval rating has fallen five points to hit 38% and 58% disapprove of his presidency.

Trump's support wavering?

This will worry investors, who are hoping the tax reform will boost trade in the US, as Trump may struggle to get enough support to pass his bill. The public approval ratings will be at the front of Senators' minds, as will the 2018 mid-term elections.

Republicans may be concerned that backing the Trump tax reform could jeopardise their chances of retaining their State's support.

The markets are always affected to some degree by terrorist attacks, though they recover rapidly. However, the indictment of the President's Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and the problems behind the Republican tax reform will be an issue for investors.

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