President Trump often “leaps into a passionate speech about how drug dealers are as bad as serial killers and should all get the death penalty,” five sources told news site Axios.
The president, inspired by Singapore and other countries that use capital punishment for drug crimes, “would love to have a law to execute all drug dealers,” according to the report.
He believes we’ve “got to make drug dealers fear for their lives” because a more health-focused approach “will never work,” the exclusive by Axios says.
Last year, a leaked phone transcript quoted Trump praising Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs,” which has led to thousands of extrajudicial killings.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” the American president was quoted as saying. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
This month, the International Criminal Court launched an initial inquiry into that nation’s drug war killings.
Bloody Drug War At Home?
In recent weeks, Trump has delivered a series of curious comments about his vision for the U.S.’s domestic drug enforcement policies.
At a signing ceremony for a bill providing drug screening technology to border patrol agents, he ominously suggested he has a solution to drug problems in mind that he’s not sure the county is ready for yet:
“So we’re going to sign this. And it’s a step. And it feels like a very giant step, but unfortunately it’s not going to be a giant step, because no matter what you do, this is something that keeps pouring in. And we’re going to find the answer. There is an answer. I think I actually know the answer, but I’m not sure the country’s ready for it yet. Does anybody know what I mean? I think so.”
At a separate event last month, he said that other countries respond to drug issues with “very, very tough measures,” adding: “We don’t. We’re not prepared to do that, I guess, they say, as a country.”
Now Trump is telling the women's event about… [checks notes again]…. the "very tough measures" other countries (read: Duterte) are taking to crack down on drug dealers pic.twitter.com/JOfQHWYPmI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 16, 2018
According to the new Axios report, Trump would “love to have a law to execute all drug dealers here in America, though he’s privately admitted it would probably be impossible to get a law this harsh passed under the American system.”
During his State of the Union address last month, the president pledged to get “much tougher on drug dealers and pushers.”
Trump Used To Support Legalization
The overall sentiment clashes sharply with pro-legalization comments Trump made in 1990.
“We’re losing badly the war on drugs. You have to legalize drugs to win that war,” he said at the time. “You have to take the profit away from these drug czars… What I’d like to do maybe by bringing it up is cause enough controversy that you get into a dialogue on the issue of drugs so people will start to realize that this is the only answer; there is no other answer.”
Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, who heads up anti-drug efforts for the administration, told Axios that Trump “makes a distinction between those that are languishing in prison for low-level drug offenses and the kingpins hauling thousands of lethal doses of fentanyl into communities, that are responsible for many casualties in a single weekend.”
Expect policy announcements “in the not-too-distant future” on the administration’s plans to “get tough on drug traffickers and pharmaceutical companies,” Axios said.
Although Trump repeatedly pledged during the 2016 presidential campaign to respect state marijuana laws if elected, Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved last month to rescind an Obama-era memo that has generally cleared the way for local cannabis policies to go into effect without federal interference.
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.