Pittsburgh mayor says he ended call with Trump after complaints over death penalty laws 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) said he quickly ended a call with President TrumpDonald John TrumpPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Trump discussing visit overseas to troops following criticism: report Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation MORE shortly after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue because Trump started complaining about death penalty laws.

Peduto spoke with The Washington Post on Saturday about dealing with the aftermath of the shooting late last month that killed 11 people — the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

ADVERTISEMENT

He told the newspaper that he was standing outside of the synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood when he received a call from the president.

Trump offered thoughts and prayers and vowed to help Peduto with anything he needed, the mayor said. The president even offered a direct line to the White House.

The president quickly veered into discussing the need for harsher death penalty laws as a method of deterring mass murderers, Peduto recalled to the Post.

Peduto said he was so stunned, he could not respond to Trump’s remarks.

“I’m literally standing two blocks from 11 bodies right now. Really?” Peduto thought at the time, he told the Post. He noted how he felt numb.

The mayor thought that talking about the death penalty wasn’t “going to bring them back or deter what had just happened."

"I ended the conversation pretty quickly after that," he added, saying the conversation only lasted about three minutes.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Peduto’s recollection of the phone call mirrors what Trump told reporters hours after the shooting while he was heading for a campaign rally in Illinois.

“Anyone who does a thing like this to innocent people … they should really pay the ultimate price," Trump said, referring to the gunman as a “wacko.”

The president also insisted that an armed guard inside the synagogue would have prevented the shooting. 

Peduto did not meet with Trump when the president visited the synagogue last week.

The mayor had asked the president to postpone his trip so that it would not overlap with the funerals for the victims. Trump was met by hundreds of protesters. 

“It could have been avoided,” Peduto told the Post of the protests. “He could have chosen to go to the Holocaust Museum and lay a wreath with his wife. Or put together a fund in order to memorialize the 11 people whose lives were lost for perpetuity, in the museum.”

A group of progressive Jewish leaders penned an open letter telling Trump he is not welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism. 

Over 86,000 people signed on to a petition from the group, the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, telling the president he is not welcome in the city.