Trump backs away from idea of Gitmo trial for terror suspect, calls for end to diversity lottery

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Guantanamo Naval Base/Everett Historical (Shutterstock.com.)

President Donald Trump called for harsh punishment, quick justice and an end to the diversity visa lottery program on Wednesday as he criticized the Manhattan terrorism suspect accused of killing eight people by driving a truck on a bicycle path one day earlier.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he would consider sending suspect Sayfullo Saipov to Guantanamo, report the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Huffington Post and the Washington Examiner. Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, had left a handwritten note showing an allegiance to ISIS.

“Send him to Gitmo, I would certainly consider that, yes,” Trump said.

“We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting now,” Trump added. “We need quick justice and we need strong justice.”

But Trump apparently changed his mind on a Guantanamo trial, the New York Times reports. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the federal system. There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”

Trump spoke on Wednesday after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Saipov should be held as an enemy combatant for intelligence gathering, the Post and Courier reports. “The last thing he should hear is his Miranda rights,” Graham told Fox News.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also called for trying Saipov at Guantanamo, according to the Huffington Post. “He’s a terrorist, he should be kept there. There’s no Miranda rights for somebody who kills Americans,” McCain said. “It doesn’t work well, but it beats the hell out of Miranda rights.”

According to the Times, no one arrested on U.S. soil has ever been sent to Guantanamo. “Transferring the suspect from New York would raise a host of constitutional and legal issues,” the Times reports, “and it was not clear that Mr. Trump actually would follow through on the idea since his comment was in reaction to a question rather than part of his prepared remarks.”

Trump also said he will ask Congress to “immediately initiate work” to end the diversity visa lottery program, which Saipov used to enter the United States in 2010. He was a permanent legal resident here.

“Diversity lottery.” Trump said. “Sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good.”

Trump had called the diversity lottery “a Chuck Schumer beauty,” a reference to the Democratic Senate Minority Leader from New York who supported the bill establishing the program in 1990. The bill passed with bipartisan votes and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.

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