Donald Trump called out for ‘racist dog whistle’ in rant against Georgia prosecutors

Mr Trump claims all will be revealed and his exoneration guaranteed after a presser next Monday

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 15 August 2023 16:46 BST
Related video: Donald Trump indicted for fourth time

Critics of Donald Trump believe he may be using racist dog whistles while discussing Black litigators and political opponents in the wake of his latest indictment.

Mr Trump was indicted yet again, this time in Georgia. On Monday, Fulton County prosecutors accused him of trying to manipulate the 2020 presidential election results in the Peach State.

He took to Truth Social to announce that a "large, complex, detailed but irrefutable REPORT" proving his election fraud claims in Georgia would be presented on 21 August. In addition to the grand announcement, he also dropped a weird noun that left some observers sceptical of its intended use.

"There will be a complete EXONERATION!" Mr Trump wrote of his upcoming presser. "They never went after those that Rigged the Election. They only went after those that found to find the RIGGERS!."

Whether or not Mr Trump intended to describe his political enemies using a word that is one letter away from being an exceptionally offensive slur is unclear. What is clear is that plenty of observers noted his use of the word.

Arieh Kovler, a current affairs and politics writer, collected a sampling of responses from a group of Trump supporters who post anonymously at a Reddit-like forum.

"I don't know if Trump deliberately uses 'RIGGERS!' as a dog-whistle, but his supporters hear it either way," he wrote. “Worth noting here that the ‘riggers’ as a racist codeword has been used for a while in MAGA circles.”

Mr Kovler included a screenshot from the site showing one user who said "I love [Trump] so much" because "he just used the word RIGGERS!"

In other posts, supporters made clear they were not discussing alleged election manipulators while using the word. Similar responses could be found on Twitter when searching about Mr Trump’s use of the word.

Mr Trump making racist-adjacent remarks is hardly novel. During his presidency he reportedly questioned why the US would allow Haitians and African immigrants to cross the border, referring to their homes as "s***hole countries."

His niece, Mary Trump, has stated publicly that she heard the former president use racial slurs growing up and claimed racism was normal for his family.

And he has given special nicknames for his Black opponents — like calling New York Attorney General "peekaboo James," which may or may not be a reference to a racist insult aimed at Black people.

He also called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg an "animal" and a "criminal" who works for George Soros. He called both Ms James and Mr Bragg "racists" and extended that charge to the woman leading Georgia's case against him, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Williams. Ms Williams is Black, and Mr Trump has baselessly accused her of having an affair with a "gang member" she was prosecuting.

“They say there’s a young woman, a young racist in Atlanta. She’s a racist. And they say, I guess they say that she was after a certain gang and she ended up having an affair with the head of the gang or a gang member,” Mr Trump said in his remarks to a group of veterans on 8 August. “And this is the person that wants to indict me. She’s got a lot of problems.”

In contrast, when referring to DOJ special counsel Jack Smith, the white litigator leading the federal government's case against Mr Trump, the former president refers to him as "psycho" and "unhinged."

Mr Trump has denied all accusations of being racist.

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