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Donald Trump, serial killer

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On the flurry of executions that ended the Trump administration:

By 9:27 p.m. Bernard was dead. In that moment, he became the ninth of 13 people executed in the final six months of the Trump administration — more federal executions than in the previous 10 administrations combined. Of the 13, six were put to death after Trump lost the election, his Justice Department accelerating the schedule to ensure they would die before the incoming administration could intercede. Before Trump, there had been only three federal executions since 1963; in January 2021, Trump oversaw three executions during a single four-day stretch.

Two years before that stretch, Trump had signed perhaps the lone broadly popular major initiative of his presidency: a bipartisan criminal-justice reform bill. By 2020, however, his political calculus had changed. As he geared up for another election, Trump White House sources say, the president was telling advisers that carrying out capital punishment would insulate him from criticism that he was soft on crime. And in his attorney general, Bill Barr, a longtime death-penalty advocate, he had the perfect accomplice.

The executions, carried out in the name of law and order, took place at a time of peak lawlessness within the White House. While his administration killed prisoners at an unprecedented clip, Trump spent his final months attempting to overturn the 2020 election, culminating in the Jan. 6 ransacking of the U.S. Capitol. And though Trump did show some mercy on his way out the door, it was largely reserved for political cronies such as Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

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Trump’s lack of interest in the details had grave repercussions for the people whose fates were in his hands. According to multiple sources inside the administration, Trump completely disregarded the advice of the Office of the Pardon Attorney, an administrative body designed to administer impartial pleas for clemency in death-penalty cases and other, lower-level offenses. And Barr says he does not recall discussing any of the 13 inmates who were eventually killed with the president who sent them to the death chamber. 

That means Trump never talked with Barr about Lisa Montgomery, a deeply mentally ill and traumatized person who became the first woman executed by the federal government since 1953. Or Wesley Ira Purkey, whose execution was delayed a day by a judge who ruled that his advancing Alzheimer’s disease had left Purkey unaware of why he was being executed. (The Supreme Court reversed that ruling the next day.) Or Daniel Lewis Lee, Dustin Lee Honken, Lezmond Charles Mitchell, Keith Dwayne Nelson, William Emmett LeCroy Jr., Christopher Andre Vialva, Orlando Cordia Hall, Alfred Bourgeois, Corey Johnson, and Dustin John Higgs.

Admittedly, it’s not as if Trump finding out that Montgomery spent her childhood getting gang-raped by her stepfather or that Bernard was 18 at the time of the murder he was convicted for would have changed anything; his sociopathy is the core problem here. And he could certainly become president again.

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