Trump, who denigrated Black men, eyes young Black men as jurors in sex scandal trial 

The former president is “leaning into deeply offensive, racist tropes while not giving a f–k  about how so many Black and brown men have been unfairly treated by the system,” said Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 15: Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears ahead of the start of jury selection at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15, 2024 in New York City. Former President Donald Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. (Photo by Jeenah Moon-Pool/Getty Images)

Defense attorneys representing Donald Trump in the historic hush money criminal trial in New York City are reportedly seeking young Black male jurors who they believe could be persuaded to acquit the former president. 

As the New York Times reported on Sunday, the Republican presidential candidate’s lawyers are “hoping to spot sympathizers and will focus on younger Black men and white working-class men.” 

Critics told theGrio the Trump defense team’s strategy will likely not yield the results they hope for, as the real estate mogul and star of “The Apprentice” turned commander-in-chief has built a career on denigrating Black men.

“I wish them luck,” said Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way, a progressive advocacy group. 

The former mayor of Ithaca, New York, told theGrio that while young Black men may be “open-minded to hearing if a prosecution is unfair,” they are also “discerning.”

Trump is currently on trial for allegedly issuing $130,000 in hush money payments before the 2016 presidential election to conceal an affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels. He also is accused of being linked to hush money payments made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who could be called as a witness. The trial marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president is standing trial in a criminal case.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the first Black man to lead the prosecutor’s office, hit Trump with 34 felony charges. Bragg accused the former president of concealing “crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.” If convicted, Trump could face up to four years in prison. 

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought the charges against former President Donald Trump, who has lashed out against the first Black prosecutor to lead that office. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Though Trump’s defense team reportedly believes young Black men could be their best shot at securing a jury that would acquit him or result in a hung jury, pundits are pulling out the receipts on Trump’s history and how he treated Black men throughout his business and political career. 

Not only did Trump rise to political power while leading a racist birther conspiracy about America’s first Black president, Barack Obama, Trump infamously bought a full-page newspaper ad in 1989 calling for the death penalty against the Central Park Five, a group of Black and brown teens accused of the rape and assault of a white female jogger. 

“I want to hate these muggers and murderers … and I always will,” Trump wrote in the ad that bemoaned the “roving bands of wild criminals” on New York City’s streets. 

“It now turns out they were completely innocent,” said Myrick, who acknowledged the racial and historical context as to why Black people, and Black men specifically, are suspicious of the criminal justice system. 

“Their radars are always up because they’ve had a lot of experience with biased prosecutors,” he explained.

Michael Blake, a former New York assemblyman and longtime Democratic operative, told theGrio that while “any Black person would have some level of attentiveness around the criminal justice system,” Trump has repeatedly shown venom toward Black men.

“Donald Trump’s argument is that young Black men should be sympathetic when he is spending his time attacking a Black man,” Blake said of Trump’s attacks on Bragg, including calling him a “thug” and “racist.” 

Anthony Coley, a legal analyst and former Department of Justice official, said of Bragg’s handling of the case: “Even in the face of all these political attacks, he’s got his head down and he’s doing the work.”

However, when it comes to the Trump defense’s supposed strategy of seeking out young Black male jurors, Coley said he’s not buying it, telling theGrio, “This feels more like a campaign talking point than a viable strategy.”

He added that whenever people “hear or see something that Donald Trump is doing, we should ask ourselves, is this for the court of public opinion, or is this for the court of law?”

Coley said the focus on Black men “feels more like his public talking point as he tries to peel away even a handful of marginal votes, and that’s all he needs in this 2024 election.”

Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, an advisory board member for the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign, said Trump is “leaning into deeply offensive, racist tropes while not giving a f–k  about how so many Black and brown men have been unfairly treated by the system.”

Former President Donald Trump, holding a pair of his signature sneakers during a February appearance in Philadelphia, is in the jury-selection phase of his hush money trial in New York. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Trump’s real estate company has long been accused of racial discrimination in the housing system. In 1972, a Trump employee admitted that his “boss” told him he was “not allowed to rent to Black tenants.” After two years of fighting a DOJ lawsuit, the billionaire settled the federal racial discrimination case without admitting fault. 

Kenyatta, who represents Philadelphia, said the twice-impeached former president “does not actually want to solve for” injustices that Black men endure in the legal system. “He just thinks that he can con every person he comes into contact with,” he argued. “He’s never been concerned about whether or not the system is fair. He’s always been concerned about whether or not he can get the system to throw out all the rules every other person has to live by.”

The 33-year-old lawmaker said the 2020 presidential election, in which Trump refused to accept the results and falsely claimed there was voter fraud, is a case study of Trump’s refusal to adhere to the law.

“You saw him lose an election and believe that he didn’t have to abide by the rules that every other president who has lost has had to abide by,” said Kenyatta.

Former U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., said voters “deserve way better” than Trump, who he said “incited a violent insurrection and continues to cozy up to Nazis.”

Jones, now the Democratic nominee for his former 17th Congressional District seat, said the start of Trump’s first of four criminal cases represents a “sad day for the American people.” 

“Frankly, it’s an embarrassment that he is the Republican nominee for president and that my opponent Mike Lawler, who claims to believe in law and order when the defendants are Black and brown or low-income, is supporting Trump’s bid to return to the White House,” said Jones.

Trump, who will be required to appear in court through the weeks-long trial in Manhattan, is expected to use the television cameras to paint himself as a victim of a corrupt system led by his 2024 opponent, President Joe Biden.

“The reality is we’re here because a grand jury believes the facts … it’s really pretty straightforward,” noted Blake, the former New  York assemblyman. 

“You can say a lot when people don’t see the details, but I think it’d be pretty clear when the details come out that, once again, Donald Trump is a liar.”

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