Late Wednesday, as midnight approached, President Donald Trump pronounced 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, the suspect in Tuesday’s terror attack on a New York City bicycle path, guilty and deserving of execution. His Twitter message:
As a man-on-the-street opinion, Trump’s sentiment certainly wouldn’t be unusual. Many would concur. But at some point, Saipov’s defense attorney, whoever he or she may be, will now be able to argue that such a pronouncement by the man in charge of dispensing justice in the United States precludes a fair trial.
Trump’s Tweet was a continuation of a line of argument that had begun in the morning, before a Cabinet meeting. From the Washington Post:
“We have to get much tougher. We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct,” Trump said. He later continued: “We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years. And at the end, they’ll be — who knows what happens. We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock.”
This morning, the president did back off a musing that Saipov should help repopulate the ex-pat prison we maintain at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba:
Trump has argued for swift rather than sure justice before. In 1989, he took out a full-page ad in the New York Daily News, calling for the death penalty in the case of five African-American men arrested for the rape and assault of a Central Park jogger.
The five men were later exonerated.
Swift justice can be a peculiar thing, applying to some — and not so much to others. Today’s edition of the AJC contains what may be the most unsettling article you’re ever likely to read in this newspaper. From our colleague Nelson Helm:
Disturbing new details emerged in a racially charged Georgia murder that languished unsolved for more than three decades.
Timothy Coggins was killed after “socializing with a white female,” a prosecutor said Wednesday, adding that the Spalding County man was dragged to his death behind a pickup truck.
The revelations in the 34-year-old case came as Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker argued Wednesday that the two men charged with killing Coggins should be denied bond.
Coggins, 23, was found with stab wounds and had lacerations on his neck, back and stomach. He also received blunt force trauma. Coggins was dragged through the woods while tied to a truck, Coker said.
Over at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley are among those raising doubts about Democratic chances in Virginia, where a governor’s race features Democrat Ralph Northam against former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie:
The two races decided next Tuesday are currently split — Democrats hold Virginia, Republicans hold New Jersey. A flip-flop, with Democrats winning the Garden State but Republicans capturing the Old Dominion, would represent no net gain for Democrats, and a maintenance of the net gubernatorial status quo would represent a win for Republicans. A double win by Republicans, which is difficult to fathom, would be a triumph, particularly given the Republicans’ difficulties right now.
Meanwhile, top Republicans have begun the embrace of Steve Bannon-approved candidates in two races for U.S. Senate. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has endorsed former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore, who faces Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 election. And U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., endorsed fellow physician Kelli Ward in the 2018 Arizona GOP primary for U.S. Senate.
One of the subplots in Atlanta’s mayoral race has been the matter of who gets the hip-hop vote. Former state senator Vincent Fort has the backing of Killer Mike – the two share a passion for Bernie Sanders.
But Keisha Lance Bottoms has her connections, too. Her Facebook page features an endorsement from rapper/actor Tip “TI” Harris. Bottoms also has an endorsement from Ludacris, and has plans to push out recorded messages from him over the next few days.
It’s worth remembering that Bottoms has parental connections to the music industry through her late father, soul singer Major Lance. Then there’s the fact that Bottoms’ chief backer in this contest, incumbent Kasim Reed, got his start as an entertainment lawyer.
Financial reports for Atlanta mayoral candidates are due this week, and a few have started trickling in. Former City Council President Cathy Woolard raised about $70,000 last month for a total around $1 million. She’s got more than $200,000 left in the tank. (GB)
Republican Tricia Pridemore filed paperwork on Wednesday to run for an open seat on the Public Service Commission that will soon be vacated by Stan Wise, who announced this month he won’t seek another term. Pridemore, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2014, said she’s in the race”to provide the Georgia taxpayer another watchdog on the commission.” Pridemore has close ties to Gov. Nathan Deal. She was his choice to head the state Republican Party in 2011 and was appointed by his administration to several key posts. Another sign of the enduring links: Her chief strategist is Tom Willis, who was Deal’s campaign manager. (Greg Bluestein)
A No. 1 ranking by the Georgia Bulldogs is catnip to politicians. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican candidate for governor in 2018, has already reserved a spot on Myers Quad in Athens on Saturday, when the Gamecocks come calling. So is Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who will be stumping at the student center named after Zell Miller.
Also Wednesday, state Sen. Michael Williams, R-Cumming, another gubernatorial hopeful, sent a firm signal that he’ll remain in the Legislature through March. It came in a fundraising email:
Did you know that I am legally unable to raise campaign funds when the Senate goes back in session this January? This leaves very little time to raise money to fund our campaign during nearly four-months of session. This makes our fundraising totals for November extremely important!
Over Flagpole magazine, Blake Aued reports that Republican Houston Gaines has raised nearly $200,000 for his Athens-area House District 117 race, outpacing Democrat Deborah Gonzalez nearly four-to-one.
We told you the other day about the Georgia congressional delegation’s last-minute push to include a lifeline for the troubled Vogtle nuclear project in the GOP’s upcoming tax plan. Now U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, a Republican whose Augusta-area 12th District includes Plant Vogtle, said he’s optimistic that a critical provision extending a nuclear tax credit will be in the legislation. But he also hedged that bet.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady “has assured me that it’s going to be in there,” Allen told us Wednesday night. “But then again, you know how these things go up here. I can’t make any promises, but we’re doing all we can to make sure it’s in there … If it’s not in there we’re going to continue to work.” (Tamar Hallerman)
The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee is urging his Republican counterpart to subpoena the Trump administration for more information about former health secretary Tom Price’s trips on taxpayer-funded private jets. “By now, the White House and HHS should have produced complete manifests with lists of all passengers who joined these flights, as well as the full costs of each flight,” Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings wrote in a letter to House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, the White House has provided no response whatsoever to the Committee’s bipartisan follow-up request on October 17, 2017. ”
Price resigned from his Cabinet post back in September due to the charter flight scandal. Around the same time, Cummings and Gowdy launched a bipartisan investigation into charter trips taken by members of Trump’s Cabinet. (TH)