Trump calls for death penalty for drug dealers; Fox's Baier notes it would apply to woman he championed

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(The Hill) – Former President Donald Trump in a Fox News interview advocated for imposing the death penalty on convicted drug dealers, even as anchor Bret Baier pointed out that the policy would have applied to Alice Johnson, a woman Trump granted clemency to and promoted in a Super Bowl ad for his 2020 campaign.

Trump told Baier that he believed the country had to enact stronger punishments against drug dealers to bring down crime, including the death penalty. In defending his own record on crime, which has come under scrutiny in the 2024 primary, Trump said his pardon powers were focused largely on nonviolent offenders.

Trump cited the case of Alice Johnson, whose sentence he commuted in 2018. Johnson was serving life in prison dating back to 1996 on charges stemming from cocaine distribution and money laundering. Johnson was later featured in a Super Bowl ad promoting Trump’s work on criminal justice reform.

“But she’d be killed under your plan,” Baier noted.

“Huh?” Trump responded.

“As a drug dealer,” Baier replied. 

“No, no, no. Oh, under that? It would depend on the severity,” Trump added.

Pressed on the issue further, Trump suggested Johnson would not have committed the same crime if the threat of the death penalty were hanging over her.

“She wouldn’t have done it, if it was death penalty,” Trump said. “In other words, if it was death penalty, she wouldn’t have been on that phone call.”

Trump’s record on crime has been a point of criticism among some other contenders in the GOP primary field, even as the former president insists he would crack down on drug dealers and violent offenders if elected for a second term.

Multiple challengers have argued Trump’s signature criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act, which was championed at the time by Trump and others and reduced mandatory minimum sentences, expanded credits for well-behaved prisoners looking for shorter sentences and aimed to reduce recidivism.

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