It’s no secret that Donald Trump’s public response to the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history has been a bungled, self-indulgent mess. But according to Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto, the president’s initial private reaction wasn’t any better.
Speaking with the Washington Post this weekend, Peduto claimed that in the midst of the unfolding chaos of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting on Saturday, he received a bizarre phone call from Trump. The subject? The death penalty.
Per the Post:
After offering thoughts and prayers — and pledging anything Peduto needed, including a direct line to the White House — Trump veered directly into policy, Peduto recalled. The president, Peduto said, insisted on discussing harsher death penalty legislation as a way to prevent such atrocities. Peduto was stunned into silence.
“I’m literally standing two blocks from 11 bodies right now. Really?” Peduto said, noting that he was numb and believed that talking about the death penalty wasn’t “going to bring them back or deter what had just happened.”
As the Post noted, the president’s call to insist that more death was the answer came before the local bomb squad had finished their sweep of the Tree of Life synagogue, and families of those killed still hadn’t been informed of their loved ones’ murders. The bodies, quite literally, were still warm.
In many ways, the anecdote is typical Trump, who has long used the death penalty as his go-to solution for any problem: crime, drugs, and now mass shootings. Trump’s plan is to kill ‘em all, regardless of the fact that there’s no evidence to suggest the death penalty would actually work as a deterrence. Not that Peduto could actually do anything about the death penalty even if he wanted to, considering he’s the mayor of Pittsburgh and not a state legislator or judge or governor.
And so, recognizing that he was speaking with an obviously deranged person, Peduto then did the only reasonable thing.
“I ended the conversation pretty quickly after that,” Peduto told the Post.