Trump’s claim of unjust indictment is ‘insulting’ to Black Americans

The GOP’s claim that Trump is a victim of a “two-tiered” justice system could be seen as ironic when considering the wrongs Black people faced historically in the U.S. criminal justice system.

As former President Donald Trump faces 37 counts for possession of classified documents and allegedly obstructing justice to retain them, he and much of the Republican Party have framed his unprecedented indictment as an unjust attack by a “corrupt political establishment.”

“There is a two-tier system of justice that we are seeing right now,” Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba, who is not representing him in his Florida criminal case, told Fox News after the former president and current Republican presidential candidate was indicted on Friday.

Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks June 10, 2023, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Trump spoke during the North Carolina Republican party’s annual state convention two days after becoming the first former U.S. president indicted on federal charges. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

But to Black Americans, the GOP’s claim that Trump is a victim of a “two-tiered” justice system could be seen as ironic when considering the wrongs they faced historically in the U.S. criminal justice system.

“The justice system has disproportionately harmed Black people, [which] is not at all what’s happening to Trump in this situation,” TV political analyst Juanita Tolliver told theGrio. “It’s so insulting that they’re actually relying on that argument, because, let’s be real, the only person who weaponized the DOJ was Trump himself.”

Tolliver recalled Trump’s actions as president, including his Justice Department subpoenaing data from his Democratic critics, their staff, and family, as well as directing DOJ staff to draft letters to state officials that falsely claimed there was election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

“The math ain’t mathing when it comes to them trying to say anybody’s weaponizing the DOJ except for Trump doing it himself,” added Tolliver.

Anthony Coley, a TV legal analyst, and former Biden DOJ official, told theGrio that all of the legal cases against Trump, including a criminal case in Manhattan and an ongoing probe in Georgia, are a result of his doing.

“He is not a victim. Even though he says that he is,” argued Coley. “He could have very easily avoided these charges had he not taken these documents, had he not kept them, [and] had he turned them over when compelled to do so by a subpoena.”

He believes many Black Americans are “paying attention to this moment” given the “abiding sense in the country that there are two systems of justice,” one for the rich and powerful like Trump and one for everyone else.

Trump opponent Nabine Seiler holds a sign that reads “Finally Trump Arrested Again” outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Federal Courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump is set to appear in front of a judge on June 13, 2023, in Miami. (Photo by Alon Skuy/Getty Images)

Many Black Americans and others who have been incarcerated in the United States lost their right to vote, even after they’ve completed their sentences, in several states across the country. However, even if Trump was convicted, he could still seek the Oval Office and be elected president – something he made clear he plans to do.

“[It’s] just another example of the effective disenfranchisement of Black people as it compares to officials and ridiculous individuals like Trump who happen to be white men,” said Tolliver.

Coley said there’s a clear “absurdity” in the United States election law that “one man can be convicted of a federal crime and still be elected and serve as President,” and yet, “millions of people who have paid the penalty for their crime are legally barred from voting for that candidate or his opponent.”

Legal and national security experts also point out the seriousness of Trump’s charges and the national security threat posed by his alleged storage of classified documents related to defense intelligence inside places like the bathroom and shower of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

“We’re not talking about policy memos or anything like that. We are talking about information regarding nuclear programs,” Coley noted. “These are some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets and they had absolutely no business being at Mar-a-Lago.”

In this photo illustration, pages are viewed from the unsealed federal indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump on June 9, 2023, in Washington, D.C. Trump has been indicted on 37 felony counts in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents probe. (Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

There are also concerns that violent events could result from Trump’s indictment as he and other Republican leaders have used incendiary language in opposition to the charges filed against him.

“This is the playbook that Trump has used not only on Jan. 6, but he called for it as well in New York,” said Tolliver, referring to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol building by a mob of Trump supporters in protest of the 2020 election results.

“He needs to be held accountable for that as well,” she added.

Coley said he suspects that his former colleagues at the DOJ and Department of Homeland Security officials are “monitoring social media outlets and using other sources and methods to stay informed and abreast of anything that can emerge from these types of attacks.” 

He continued, “This is a tenuous moment in American history, and we all should be mindful and watchful because everyone isn’t happy with this indictment.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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