President Donald Trump apparently praises the governments of countries that kill large-scale drug dealers, Axios reported Sunday evening, and has been telling friends and associates “for months” that the threat of death acts as a successful deterrent for committing drug crimes.
He points to countries like the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war and emphasis on extrajudicial killings has resulted in the deaths of over 12,000 people, and Singapore, which has mandatory death sentences for certain drug crimes and has put dozens of low-level drug offenders to death.
“He says that a lot,” said a source who’s spoken to Trump at length about the subject. “He says, ‘When I ask the prime minister of Singapore do they have a drug problem [the prime minister replies,] ‘No. Death penalty’.”
But the president doesn’t just joke about it. According to five sources who’ve spoken with Trump about the subject, he often leaps into a passionate speech about how drug dealers are as bad as serial killers and should all get the death penalty.
Trump has said he would love to have a law to execute all drug dealers here in America, though he’s privately admitted it would probably be impossible to get a law this harsh passed under the American system.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager who now leads the White House’s anti-drug efforts, told Axios that “Trump’s position is more nuanced” than those of countries fond of extrajudicial killings, and that he refers to drug dealers with large-scale operations that reach thousands of customers. He also believes it’s unfair that the death penalty is legal for some people who commit homicide, but illegal for drug dealers whose products can kill multiple people.
At the very minimum, Axios reports, Trump is advocating for the U.S. to adopt other “zero tolerance” drug prevention measures implemented in Singapore, like drug abstention programs in primary schools.