While President Trump can’t unilaterally send someone to prison, he can give someone a Twitter sentencing.
James Comey has been subject to the most recent round of lock-him-up taunts from Trump, with the president saying that the former FBI director should be behind bars for allegedly giving up classified information and lying to Congress. In an NPR interview Tuesday morning, Comey responded.
“President Trump, I don’t follow him on Twitter, but I get to see his tweets tweeted, I don’t know how many, but some tweets this past couple of days that I should be in jail,” he said. “The president of the United States just said that a private citizen should be jailed. And I think the reaction of most of us was, ‘Meh, that’s another one of those things.’ This is not normal.”
But normal is relative, and for Trump, there is nothing particularly unusual about suggesting that a perceived opponent should be jailed. Comey is just the most recent addition to a long list.
Standing atop that list is Hillary Clinton, who was a constant source of Trump’s throw-’em-in-jail ire during the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton. In October, Trump tweeted that Clinton “should have been prosecuted and should be in jail” for her alleged sharing of classified emails and concerns over contributions made to the Clinton Foundation.
“Instead,” he added, “she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election.”
Other Democrats are no stranger to this treatment. The president tweeted that Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide, “put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents,” and punctuated the tweet with: “Jail!” Trump also said Barack Obama’s car czar Steve Rattner, who was fined $10 million for his alleged involvement for a pay-to-play scheme involving the pension fund of the state of New York, “should have gone to prison.”
Other political figures who have received this public condemnation are Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) both of whom Trump claimed, on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, were colluding in the 2016 election. “It’s collusion. In business you go to jail for that, but it’s collusion where they’re coming together because they are getting beaten badly,” he said.
Non-political public figures have made cameos on Trump’s Twitter-list of folks to jail. After Snoop Dogg made a mock video of him “executing” Trumpian-looking clown, the president claimed that the rapper would be receiving “Jail time” if he “aimed and fired the gun at President Obama.” Trump said that WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning “should never have been released from prison,” and Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who deserted his post in 2009 and was held captive by the Haqqani network, would have gotten prison time 10 or 20 years ago.
College basketball players also made an appearance on the POTUS’ feed. After a number of UCLA team members were caught shoplifting while in China, Trump tweeted that he “should have left them in jail” because one of the player’s father, LaVar Ball, was “very ungrateful!” for the president’s help in getting them released.
Those who express their discontent towards the president also need criminal punishment, according to… the president. Trump suggested that those who burn the American flag should be punished with “perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” He stated that “thugs” (paid by WikiLeaks and Hillary Clinton) who disturbed Trump campaign rallies “should be put in jail.” He also said the protester who tried to rush the stage at his Ohio campaign event “should be in jail” and had “ties to ISIS”—which turned out to be inaccurate.
The immigrant population, specifically MS-13 members and illegal immigrants (“We will find you, we will arrest you, we will jail you and we will deport you”) and people who re-enter the border after being deported (“When they come in another one, it’ll be 10 years”) are in need of jail time too.
But what Trump giveth, he also taketh away. The president has also advocated for a number of figures to be released from prison, including foreigners like Venezuelan politician Leopoldo Lopez, and Iranian Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini.
He’s also publicly called for those convicted of financial crimes to be released, like former CEO of Tyco International Dennis Kozlowski and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Kozlowski spent tens of millions of company money on personal expenses, and is currently out of jail. Blagojevich had his appeal recently rejected after he was convicted for extorting a children’s hospital for contributions. He’s set to be released in 2024.