Donald Trump says he appeals to Black voters who see him as a 'victim of discrimination'

Donald Trump speaks at the Black Conservative Federation's Annual BCF Honors Gala Credit: AP

Donald Trump has claimed that his four criminal indictments have boosted his support among Black American voters because they see him as a "victim of discrimination", in a speech comparing his legal jeopardy to the historic legacy of anti-Black prejudice in the US legal system.

The former US president argues he is the victim of political persecution, even though there is no evidence that current President Joe Biden or White House officials influenced the filing of 91 felony charges against him.

Earlier in the week, 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.

"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."

Trump has centered his third campaign for the White House on his grievances against 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 an adult film star.

He is the dominant Republican front-runner, as many GOP voters echo his beliefs, and is favoured to soundly beat former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in her home state.

During his speech, Trump claimed his mug shot, taken by Georgia authorities after he was indicted on state racketeering charges over the 2020 election, had benefited his popularity among Black voters.

Donald Trump at the Black Conservative Federation's Annual BCF Honors Gala at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Centre. Credit: AP

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

Trump's campaign has predicted he can do better with Black voters in November than he did four years ago, citing Biden's faltering poll numbers and what Trump 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.

He was flanked on stage at the Black Conservative Federation's gala in Columbia, South Carolina, by Black elected officials including Reps Byron Donalds of Florida and Wesley Hunt of Texas.

During the freewheeling speech, Trump continued: “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."

Trump went on to say that he knew many Black people because his properties were built by Black construction workers.

He also recited a story about how he renegotiated the cost of remodelling Air Force One, and criticised his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who was the first Black person to be elected to the White House.

Donald Trump pictured with Barack Obama in 2016. Credit: AP

Trump has a long history of stoking racial tensions. From his earliest days as a New York real estate developer, he has faced accusations of racist business practices.

In 1989, he took out full-page newspaper adverts calling for New York state to reinstate the death penalty when five Black and Latino teenagers were set to stand trial for beating and raping a white woman in Central Park.

The five men were eventually exonerated in 2002 after another man admitted to the crime and it was determined their confessions were coerced.

He spent years spreading the lie that Obama was ineligible to hold office.

When he was president, Trump derided “s***hole countries” in Africa and said four congresswomen should "go back to the broken and crime-infested countries they came from", ignoring the fact that all of the women are American citizens and three were born in the US.

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