Lindsey Graham hits Trump on NYC terrorist: You're acting like Obama by not sending him to Gitmo

Good lord. Grahamnesty knows just which buttons to push, doesn’t he? This is the harshest thing you could say to a Republican president obsessed with projecting strength, especially on a matter of counterterrorism.

I figured POTUS would climb down from what he said yesterday about possibly sending Saipov to Gitmo. I didn’t think it would happen in less than 24 hours. Mattis and Kelly must have been quick to have “the talk” with him about due process.

How the hell does he square that with that rant he went on yesterday about the federal court system being a “joke” and a “laughingstock” for terrorists? Gitmo’s even more of a joke and a laughingstock now?

Superhawk Lindsey Graham is mortified by Trump’s retreat, watching a golden opportunity to set a precedent for sending terrorists captured inside the U.S. to Guantanamo slip away:

“I appreciate President Trump taking the gloves off when it comes to unleashing our military on ISIL. However, I’m dumbfounded as to why the Trump Administration still follows the Obama playbook when it comes to dealing with terror suspects.

“If there was ever a candidate to be held as an enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes, it is Sayfullo Saipov — a self-declared ‘Soldier of the Caliphate’.

“If you show support for terrorism, commit an act of terrorism, and say you are a terrorist that should be enough to allow us to treat you as a terrorist. All the evidence points to the fact he should be characterized as an unlawful enemy combatant — not a common criminal. Mr. Saipov is an enemy combatant and should be held as such.”

“With all due respect Mr. President,” said Graham in a separate tweet, “stop embracing Obama policies when it comes to terror suspects.” Cuts like a knife.

Former prosecutor Andy McCarthy, who put the “blind sheikh” behind bars years ago and who’s pretty darned hawkish himself, breaks with Graham on this one:

I don’t know. Military operations against ISIS are, in theory, covered by the 2001 AUMF. That theory is mighty dubious but that’s what the feds have settled on. As such, if Saipov is ISIS by his own admission, Graham’s case for sending him to Gitmo as an enemy combatant seems straightforward. As for Trump’s logic that processing him at Gitmo would take too long compared to federal court, I thought that he and his supporters would consider that a *feature* of military detention, not a bug. You send him to Gitmo and he’ll be there forever, slogging through an intractable procedural course that has people like Khaled Sheikh Mohammed still awaiting trial 15 years after capture. Sending him to Gitmo means tossing him in the dungeon and essentially forgetting about him. Shouldn’t Trump prefer that to a speedy public trial in federal court? I don’t get it.

McCarthy also had something to say to Trump about the point Jazz made earlier, that the president publicly demanding the death penalty for a federal criminal defendant before he’s even been charged is, ah, stupid:

No judge is going to let a dangerous jihadi like Saipov walk free because Trump has prejudiced the case with his statements, but this might mean life in prison is the worst Saipov reasonably has to fear from sentencing. You can interpret Trump’s decision to tweet in that context in two ways. One: He’s playing eight-dimensional chess, knowing that his comments demanding death for Saipov will force the court to take it off the table — which Trump himself can then use to polish his own strongman brand by complaining that the courts are “weak.” Two: He’s a dope. Up to you, Here’s Graham making the case for shipping Saipov off to Cuba.