Trump Attacks California Governor Gavin Newsom for 'Defying Voters' on Death Penalty


President Donald Trump on Wednesday weighed in on Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Tuesday announcement that he would place a moratorium on all executions in his state.

“Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!”

Newsom’s decision comes after California voters rejected ballot measures to abolish capital punishment twice since 2014. Voters shot down a proposed end to the death penalty by 4 points in 2014 and 6.4 points in 2016, Politico reported. California voters even voted to fast-track death sentence appeals.

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Newsom cited discrimination against minorities and the poor and his Catholic background as the reasons why he “will not oversee the execution of any individual.”

“Here is the bottom line: Our death penalty system has been — by any measure — a failure,” Newsom said in a statement according to Politico. “It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.”

“But most of all, the death penalty is absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error,” he continued.

California has the most death row inmates in the U.S., according to Politico.

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Newsom once again brought the death penalty to the forefront of public debate even though California has not executed a prisoner since 2006 after a federal judge ruled that the state’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail was unconstitutional, according to Politico. The state came up with a new lethal injection protocol in 2018 but has still been hamstrung by court challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nevada faces a similar dilemma after lawsuits from pharmaceutical companies over the use of their products in the lethal injection process pushed back an inmate’s execution date twice. Twice-convicted murderer Scott Raymond Dozier said he wanted to die and hanged himself in his cell in January before authorities were able to execute him.

Newsom’s office made clear that the moratorium will not release any inmates or shorten their sentences, Politico reported. His office said the death penalty cost California more than $5 billion to administer since 1978 but did not result in better public safety or homicide rates.

This is not the first time Trump has gone after Newsom on Twitter. The president demanded in February that California pay back the federal government for its abandoned high-speed rail project Newsom once touted.

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