AOC says idea Trump is victim of a ‘two-tier’ justice system is an insult to Black and brown Americans

‘The idea that there’s a two-tiered justice system and somehow the person on the short end of the stick is one of the most powerful and wealthy people that this country has known? I don’t think so,’ New York Democrat tells The Independent

Eric Garcia
Capitol Hill
Wednesday 14 June 2023 11:12 BST
Trump's second arraignment: Watch how it happened

Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) criticised Republicans who said that former president Donald Trump was a victim of a two-tiered system of justice and said it was an insult to Black and brown Americans.

The democratic socialist congresswoman told The Independent that she has not finished reading the indictment of the twice-impeached and twice-indicted former president, but planned on finishing it soon.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez serves as the number-two Democrat on the House Oversight & Accountability Committee. She said there was no comparison between Mr Trump’s refusal to turn over documents to President Joe Biden’s having classified documents, which Republicans have sought to paint as similar.

“In no way shape or form is there a comparison between these two situations,” she said. “I think the American people have seen the documents stockpiled in bathrooms and in closets, the sheer amount of documents that will be stored and warehoused as well as the Trump administration's lack of cooperation and withholding these documents, it is extreme.”

Mr Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 charges in a federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday during his arraignment. Republicans, including Trump attorney Alina Habba and Virginia Gov Glenn Youngkin, have said that is a sign of a “two-tiered” justice system.

But Ms Ocasio-Cortez said that claim insulted Black and brown communities who actually do face a two-tiered justice system.

“The idea that there's a two-tiered justice system and somehow the person on the short end of the stick is one of the most powerful and wealthy people that this country has known?” she said. “I don't think so.”

Black Americans are far more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts, with the arrest rate for Black Americans being around 6,109 per 100,000 people compared to 2,795 per 100,000 white Americans, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

Rep Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), a fellow member of the Squad, also pushed back on the claim.

“Well Republicans don't want rich, powerful white men to go to jail, but they want poor, vulnerable Black and brown people to go to jail,” he told The Independent. “So they don't care if the Black and brown person is jumping the turnstile or allegedly stealing a book bag they want them to go to jail and stay in jail. But rich, powerful white men. Nah man, to them they need Trump out making money for their super PACs so they can get re-elected.”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez also criticised Republicans who said that the government is weaponised against Mr Trump. House Republicans formed the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government at the beginning of the Congress in response to investigations into Mr Trump.

“There's no way in which that argument holds water,” she said. “We have a nation of laws in which all people are treated equally and mind too, the President is not being charged with events that happened during his presidency, but crimes that were committed afterwards.”

Rep Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate for the US Virgin Islands who serves as the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, criticised the accusations of weaponisation and said she worried about such accusations from House Republicans.

“I think that they've been laying the foundation for this from the beginning of this Congress by talking about the weaponization of the federal government making Americans feel uncomfortable with the rule of law with our law enforcement, whether it's FBI or [Department of Justice],” Ms Plaskett told The Independent. “And so that's something that we're going to continue to push back on in the committee, as well as I think in the Democratic caucus.”

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