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Trump says criminal indictments boosted his appeal to black voters

The former president compared his legal jeopardy to the historic legacy of anti-black prejudice in the US legal system.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at the Black Conservative Federation’s Annual BCF Honors Gala at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Election 2024 Trump Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at the Black Conservative Federation’s Annual BCF Honors Gala at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina (Andrew Harnik/AP) (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Donald Trump has claimed his four criminal indictments have boosted his support among black Americans because they see him as a victim of discrimination.

The former president compared his legal jeopardy to the historic legacy of anti-Black prejudice in the US legal system.

Mr Trump argues he is the victim of political persecution, even though there is no evidence President Joe Biden or White House officials influenced the filing of 91 felony charges against him.

Earlier in the week, Mr Trump compared himself to Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top domestic rival, who died in a remote Arctic prison after being jailed by the Kremlin leader.

Former President Donald Trump during the speech (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Election 2024 Trump Former President Donald Trump during the speech (Andrew Harnik/AP) (Andrew Harnik/AP)

“I got indicted for nothing, for something that is nothing,” Trump told a black-tie event for black conservatives in South Carolina ahead of Saturday’s Republican primary.

“And a lot of people said that’s why the black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against.

“It’s been pretty amazing but possibly, maybe, there’s something there.”

Mr Trump has centred his third campaign for the White House on his grievances against Mr Biden and what he alleges is a “deep state” targeting him, even as he faces charges from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, keeping classified documents at his Florida estate and allegedly arranging payments to a porn actress.

He is the dominant Republican front-runner and is favoured to soundly beat former UN ambassador Nikki Haley in her home state.

Mr Trump noted the mug shot taken by Georgia authorities after he was indicted on state racketeering charges over the 2020 election.

“When I did the mug shot in Atlanta, that mug shot is No 1,” he said. “You know who embraced it more than anyone else? The black population.”

Mr Trump’s campaign has predicted he can do better with black voters in November than he did four years ago, citing Mr Biden’s faltering poll numbers with black adults and what the former president sees as advantages on issues like the economy and the record-high number of people crossing the US-Mexico border, often ending up in cities with large black populations.

“The lights are so bright in my eyes I can’t see too many people out there. But I can only see the black ones. I can’t see any white ones. That’s how far I’ve come,” Mr Trump said to laughter from the audience.

He also said that he knew many black people because his properties were built by black construction workers.

Republicans face an uphill battle in courting black voters, who are overwhelmingly supportive of the Democratic Party.

While black voter enthusiasm for Mr Biden has cooled over the last year, only 25% of black Americans said they had a favourable view of Mr Trump in a December AP-NORC poll.