Developments on Day 286 of the Trump Administration:

Trump Talks of Use of Gitmo, Death Penalty

In a series of off-the-cuff statements about Tuesday’s attack in New York City that killed eight people, Donald Trump has railed against immigration, spoken of indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, and called for the death penalty.

In contrast to his relative silence earlier this month over the killing of 58 people and wounding of hundreds in Las Vegas by a white gunman, Trump has sent out a series of heated Twitter messages after the van assault by Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old permanent US resident from Uzbekistan.

Upholding a supposed solution through “extreme vetting”, Trump initially pressed for the implementation of his “Muslim Ban”, held up by US courts, which would bar entry to citizens of several mainly-Muslim countries — even though Uzbekistan is not one of those affected, and even though the measure would not have applied to Saipov, who has been in the US since 2010.

On Thursday, Trump switched his attack to the Diversity Visa Program under which Saipov obtained his permanent residency. Launched in 1990, the program sought to broaden the range of immigrants to the US, particularly seeking to raise the number from European countries sought as Ireland, with 50,000 people from a pool of 125,000 granted visas. In 2013, Senate leaders — including Minority Leader Charles Schumer — sought to revise the system, but were blocked by the House of Representatives.

Trump set aside that background as he poured invective on the program and Schumer. Tweeting after he watched Fox and Friends excoriate the initiative, he wrote:

Later in the day, speaking to the press before a Cabinet meeting, Trump expanded his attack to the entire criminal justice system:

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.

He said that he wanted to send Saipov — “this animal” — to the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, used since 2002 for long-term detention of prisoners of the Afghanistan war and “terrorists”.

Shortly before midnight, Trump returned to Twitter:

NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!

“I’m Not Under Investigation”

In his rambling statement to the press, Trump pushed his challenge to immigration:

We have to get much tougher. We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything….

I am today starting the process of terminating the Diversery [sic] Lottery Program. Diversery and Diversity Lottery. Diversity Lottery — sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it.”

Later, in a call to The New York Times, Trump addressed the headlines before the New York attack: the Trump-Russia investigation with the indictments of former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his top aide Rick Gates, and the guilty plea of another campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, who is cooperating with authorities.

Trump said, incorrectly, “I’m not under investigation, as you know”. He distanced himself from Manafort: “There’s not even a mention of Trump in there….It has nothing to do with us.”

He then took issue with a Washington Post report, from multiple sources, that he is “angry with everybody”: “I’m actually not angry at anybody.”

Belated Calls

But as Trump waged his PR campaign, he faced criticism for neglecting to call either New York Governor Andrew Cuomo or New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Cuomo sent a message:

You play into the hands of the terrorists to the extent that you disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society. And the tone now should be the exact opposite by all officials on all levels. This is about unification, this is about solidarity.

Trump finally made the calls on Wednesday afternoon: