Trump tells Sessions he favors death penalty for fentanyl dealers

President Donald Trump told Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday that illegal dealers of the opioid fentanyl should be sentenced to death when convicted, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Sessions met Trump at the White House to discuss overhauling prison sentences, hours after Trump again ripped into the attorney general in an interview with Fox News. The meeting was cordial and the two men agreed to delay a push for any criminal justice overhaul until after midterm congressional elections, one of the people said.

Several other administration officials were in the meeting, including Kellyanne Conway, who is overseeing the White House’s opioid response.

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Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009.

(Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

A seized counterfeit hydrocodone tablets in the investigation of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in northern California is shown in this Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) photo released on April 4, 2016. At least 42 drug overdoses in the past two weeks have been reported in northern California, 10 of them fatal, in what authorities on Monday called the biggest cluster of poisonings linked to the powerful synthetic narcotic fentanyl ever to hit the U.S. West Coast.

(Drug Enforcement Administration/Handout via Reuters)

Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009.

(Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Dory Bauler's unused Fentanyl patch packets. She is one of millions of patients who used the fentanyl patch, which delivers a powerful narcotic through the skin. The patch, brand name Duragesic, was the subject of a recent FDA alert. Patients are overdosing, sometimes they die. Mrs. Bauler came off the patch when she realized the drug was causing her breathing problems, a sign of serious trouble. This photo was taken at her home in Laguna Woods.

(Photo by Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A small bag of straight Fentanyl on display at the State Crime Lab at the Ohio Attorney General's headquarters of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 in London, Ohio.

(Photo by Ty Wright for/ For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

'If I don't put these on, it hurts to breathe,' says Smitty Anderson wearing Fentanyl patches to help him deal with the pain caused by multiple myeloma cancer, a blood cancer that affects the bones. Anderson worked at Savannah River Site from 1981 to 1998. The Andersons filed claims to get federal compensation for his disease, which he said came from working at the nuclear site. He had no luck. 'We've been going through so much red tape for years,' he said. 'My wife has to do all the work now. I just don't have the strength anymore.' He died on Nov. 5, 2015.

(Gerry Melendez/The State/TNS via Getty Images)


It’s not the first time Trump has mused about sentencing drug dealers to death. Politico reported in March that the proposal would be included in a plan expected from the White House to combat the opioids crisis.

Under a law signed by President Bill Clinton, people who deal large quantities of drugs or make large amounts of money from the trade can already be sentenced to death. But prosecutors have never sought the penalty out of concern it would be found to be unconstitutional, Politico reported.

Fentanyl is one of the world’s most dangerous and most profitable narcotics, so powerful that it’s been studied as a chemical weapon, Bloomberg Businessweek reported in May. It kills more people than any other opioid, including heroin, because it’s so easy to overdose.

The drug or its analogs killed an estimated 29,000 Americans in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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