During a rare White House press briefing on Wednesday two black reporters questioned White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about Donald Trump’s racist application of “law and order” and treatment of the Central Park Five.
In response to Trump’s infuriating comments on Tuesday night, when he mocked accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and lamented that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was being treated “guilty until proven innocent,” NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe asked Sanders about Trump’s selective advocacy for due process, which he applies liberally to rich white men while treating men of color as criminals.
Rascoe asked Sanders about Trump’s treatment of the Central Park Five—in 1989, he took out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty for the five black and Latino teens accused of raping a woman in Central Park. Even after the the men were exonerated by DNA evidence, Trump insisted they were guilty. “Is there a disconnect between when the president is interested in due process for some, but not for others?” Rascoe asked.
Huckabee Sanders dodged the question. “Not at all,” she said, arguing that because Trump supported both Ford and Kavanugh offering testimony, he was calling for due process. (Remember again that the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing was not a criminal trial, though Republicans did bring a prosecutor into the process.) “We are a country that still believes you are innocent until proven guilty,” Huckabee Sanders said. She did not respond to Rascoe’s question about the Central Park Five.
Veteran White House correspondent April Ryan did not let Sanders move on without trying to get an answer easily, though. She followed up on Rascoe’s question: “He said the Central Park Five was guilty. Does he feel that now?”
“I’d have to look at the specific comments,” Sanders said, calling on another reporter.
“But that’s a real question in the midst of this,” Ryan continued, undeterred. “The president has taken this moment to say that he’s been affected personally by all of these allegations. And he’s picking and choosing, just as the question was.”
“Has he decided to change his mind on the Central Park Five, as they have been exonerated?” she asked again.
Sanders again declined to respond, instead shutting Ryan down and calling on the next reporter.