Donald Trump: Did he really ask for a staffer to be 'put to death'? Former Attorney General answers

The fact that Donald Trump regularly has to express his opinion is nothing new. He even launched his own social network for this purpose. But the statements that have recently come to light are even harsher than usual.

Donald Trump execution
© Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin / GETTY IMAGES
Donald Trump execution

Donald Trump is known for his polarising rhetoric. During his election campaign in March 2024, he insulted migrants in an interview with a Silence of the Lambs comparison. And in a speech, he once remarked that Jews who vote for Biden 'hate their religion and everything about Israel'. It is not clear from the former US president which of this is political calculation and which statements he really means seriously.

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Rivals should be 'executed'

In the 2021 book Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost by author Michael Bender, Trump is said to have suggested that a staff member be 'put to death' after leaking a story to the media which revealed that the 77-year-old had spent some time in a bunker during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

As reported by The Independent, that story about Trump allegedly wishing death upon a staffer has been confirmed, or at least, brought back, by Former White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin in December 2023 while being interviewed on The View.

Without looking very hard for further instances Donald Trump himself has also made such statements on his social network Truth Social. Following the dismissal of Chief of Staff Mark Milley last year, he made posts alluding to the ex-military officer's telephone conversations with Chinese counterparts during his time in office, which high-ranking officials had been informed about at the time.

However, Trump has another take on the situation and posted it online, writing:

This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!

Former Trump administration attorney general Mr Barr indirectly confirms this in an interview

William Barr, who was Attorney General under Trump from 2019 to 2020, was asked about this in an interview with CNN in May 2024. Unfortunately for Trump, who is also currently in the middle of a criminal trial, it seems like Mr Barr indirectly confirmed that the strong words were uttered.

As The Independent reports, Mr Barr tried to downplay the situations by still said:

I remember him being very mad about that
I actually don’t remember him saying ‘executing’ but I wouldn’t dispute it, you know… The president would lose his temper and say things like that. I doubt he would’ve actually carried it out.

In the interview with CNN, Mr Barr continued with his revelations. He added:

He would say things similar to that on occasions to blow off steam. But I wouldn’t take them literally every time he did it. At the end of the day, it wouldn’t be carried out and you could talk sense into him.

Mr Barr also tried to defend the former President by claiming that people tend to take him 'too literally'.

His lawyer also spoke about 'executions'

Even as the US Secret Service is forced to consider options in the event that Trump is jailed, the question of Presidential immunity remains. In January, Trump's lawyer D. John Sauer was asked by the court during the January 6, 2021 riot trial whether a president could give orders to take out political opponents.

According to Sauer, a president is also immune in this case. According to him, prosecution would only be possible if Congress were to impeach and convict him. With a Republican majority, however, this would probably not happen. A US president could therefore eliminate political rivals with impunity if necessary. This makes Trump's statements, who wants to hold this office again, even more explosive.

That being said some hope remains. Mr Barr told CNN that looking back at his experience with Trump he doesn't 'think he would actually go and kill political rivals'. Let's hope he's right!

This article has been adapted from Gentside DE

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Sources used:

The Independent: Bill Barr says Trump often suggested executing his rivals during heated White House outbursts

Merkur: „Kochend vor Wut“: Jähzorniger Trump forderte mehrfach die Hinrichtung von Rivalen

Frankfurter Rundschau: „Um Dampf abzulassen”? Trump schlug wohl regelmäßig Hinrichtungen von Konkurrenten vor

Watson: Trump-Anwalt schockt mit Aussage zur Hinrichtung von politischen Gegnern

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