According to yet another new book, President Donald Trump has a racist history, and this history goes all the way back to the 45th president’s halcyon days as an inherited wealth and real estate mogul in New York City.
The scene to be set here is something Scorsese-like:
It’s the fall of 1973 and the Saturday Night Massacre is days away from shifting the Watergate scandal past the point of no return. While the White House scrambles its legal strategy on the daily, other federal attorneys have a steady course of action. A lawsuit from the Department of Justice (DOJ) roils Fred Trump and his 27-year-old son.
According to the DOJ, the Trump family violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968 in their operation of 39 buildings–most of which were located in three neighborhoods spanning Brooklyn and Queens.
A New York Times article from the archives explains:
Seeking an injunction to halt alleged discriminatory practises, the Government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals “because of race and color.” It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.
“The Trumps were drowning in evidence of systematic racial discrimination,” he notes. “On at least seven occasions, prospective tenants had filed complaints against the Trumps with the human rights commission, alleging racially discriminatory patterns and practices.”
An extended excerpt from Zirin’s book “Plaintiff In Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits” explains how Richard Nixon‘s investigators got their hands on said evidence:
It seemed that in a July 1972 test at the Trumps’ Shore Haven properties in Brooklyn, when a black woman sought to rent an apartment, the superintendent turned her away, informing her that nothing was available. Shortly thereafter, when a white woman applied, the same superintendent told her she could “immediately rent either one of two available apartments.”
The two women were “testers” from the Open Housing Center. One white tester said that a building superintendent admitted that “superiors” had directed him to follow “a racially discriminatory rental policy.” As a result, there were only a few black occupants in the buildings.
And that’s not nearly all of the ways in which Trump and his father treated people of color differently.
Additional evidence showed that Trump employees were instructed to code black and Latin applicants with “cryptic designations” which only identified them to other Trump employees in the know about the racial coding system. And, when Trump and his father did rent to African-Americans, they real estate magnates “ghettoized his properties” by “packing minorities” into one series of apartment buildings near downtown Brooklyn.
Citing investigative journalist Wayne Barrett, Zirin called the evidence of racial discrimination in housing carried out by the Trumps as a matter of official policy “overwhelming.”
According to the government, at least four rental agents used the Trump family racial-coding system. Several doormen told investigators they “instructed to discourage African Americans seeking apartments by saying the superintendent was out.”
And when black applicants weren’t turned away on sight, they were apparently sent to the Trump family’s central office while white people had it quite a bit easier: “he was authorized to accept white applicants on the spot.”
The excerpt continued to document the allegations compiled by the Nixon Administration:
Another rental agent said that Fred Trump had instructed him not to rent to African Americans. The Trumps had quoted different rental terms and conditions to African Americans and made false “no vacancy” statements to African Americans for Trump-managed apartments.
Trump and his family fought the lawsuit for two years before settling with the government by way of a consent order which “required the Trumps to place ads in newspapers saying that they welcomed black applicants,” according to Washington Post reporter Michael Kranish.
The Trump family celebrated because, per the terms of the consent order, they didn’t have to admit any wrongdoing–all they had to do was take many of the same remedial actions they’d been fighting for years.
[Image via ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images]