Trump’s tweets seen as unlikely to slow New York terror case
By COLLEEN LONG and LARRY NEUMEISTER
NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s tweets calling for the death penalty for the man charged in the New York truck rampage could give defense attorneys grounds to argue that Trump has poisoned the minds of potential jurors. But some legal experts doubt that argument will slow the case.
This undated photo provided by St. Charles County Department of Corrections via KMOV shows the Sayfullo Saipov. A man in a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, killing several. Officials who were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity identified the attacker Saipov. (St. Charles County Department of Corrections/KMOV via AP)
In a highly unusual instance of a president weighing in on the fate of a defendant awaiting trial, Trump said on Twitter that 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!” in the attack that left eight people dead. In another tweet, Trump said prosecutors “Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”
Some legal experts Thursday said judges in Manhattan’s federal courts will not let the president’s remarks slow the case or throw it off track, especially in a courthouse with a quarter-century record of swift terrorism prosecutions with mostly airtight outcomes.
“Nothing slows down the train,” said James Cohen, a professor at Fordham Law School. He said the yet-to-be-assigned judge will question prospective jurors to ensure they can be fair despite anything they might have heard or read.
Lawyers differed over whether Trump was out of bounds.
“Even presidents are entitled to First Amendment rights,” said Michael Wildes, a former federal prosecutor.
Joshua Dratel, a veteran defense attorney in terrorism cases, would not predict what a judge might do, but he said the tweets should disqualify prosecutors from seeking the […]