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Justin Amash teams up with 'squad' member to end federal death penalty ahead of announced executions

Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., who left the Republican Party over his feud with President Donald Trump, has teamed up with a member of the anti-Trump "squad" to keep the Department of Justice from executing five convicted murderers.

"Michigan abolished capital punishment in 1846," Amash tweeted Friday morning. "The U.S. government has had a moratorium on this horrendous practice since 2003. Now, President Trump and AG Barr want to resume executions. This week, I joined @RepPressley to introduce a bill to prohibit the federal death penalty."

The short bill, less than two pages, simply states that "no person may be sentenced to death or put to death on or after the date of enactment of this Act for any violation of federal law."

The move is in response to a Department of Justice announcement Thursday that the Trump administration would seek to carry out the first federal executions in 16 years.

“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Attorney General Barr said in a statement.  “Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding.  The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., is a member of the far-left group of House Democrat freshmen known as the "squad." She responded to Thursday's news by bringing up President Trump's calls, when he was a private citizen, to bring back the death penalty for the Central Park Five.

"The same #racist rhetoric coming from the occupant of the  @WhiteHouse, who called for the execution of the #Exonerated5, is what led to this racist, vile policy. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now," she tweeted. "The cruelty is the point - this is by design."

The death row inmates in this situation, according to Thursday's announcement, have been convicted of murdering “the most vulnerable in our society—children and the elderly.”

Those set to be executed include:

  • A man who “emotionally tortured, sexually molested, and then beat to death his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter”
  • A man who stabbed a 63-year-old grandmother to death and forced her nine-year-old granddaughter to sit beside the lifeless body before slitting the girl’s throat, crushing her head with rocks, and cutting off both victims’ heads and hands
  • A man who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl before dismembering, burning, and throwing her remains in a septic pond
  • A member of a white supremacist group who murdered a family of three
  • A man who shot 5 people to death

The last person to be executed by the federal government, as opposed to a state government, was in 2003. While Obama stopped short on efforts to put an end to the practice at the federal level in 2015, his administration put a de facto moratorium on executions.

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