Updated at 9:03 a.m. ET
A day after the deadly terrorist attack in New York City that killed at least eight people, President Trump said suspect Sayfullo Saipov should get the death penalty and that he would consider sending Saipov to Guantanamo Bay even though he has already been charged in civilian court.
Saipov was arrested Tuesday after police said he drove a rented pickup truck into a pedestrian and bicycle path in Manhattan, mowing down dozens of people. The 29-year-old suspect, who is a native of Uzbekistan and a legal resident of the U.S., was charged Wednesday in federal court with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Authorities said they found a note in the truck pledging loyalty to the Islamic State.
The president, asked by reporters on Wednesday if he would consider sending the suspect to the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center, said: “I certainly would consider that,” adding: “Send him to Gitmo, I would certainly consider that, yes.”
At a White House briefing later, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked whether Trump thinks Saipov should be classified as an enemy combatant.
She responded, “I believe we would consider this person to be an enemy combatant, yes.”
Later on Twitter, though, the president appeared to backtrack from this approach.
“Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system…” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “…There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”
Still, one theme did remain clear: Trump’s displeasure with the speed of the U.S. criminal justice system.
“We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” he said Wednesday.
“They’ll go through court for years. And at the end, they’ll be — who knows what happens,” Trump said. “We need quick justice and we need strong justice. Much quicker and much stronger than we have right now.”