Trump Spanked by DOJ for Racial Discrimination

It’s been awhile since Donald Trump has been sued by the Department of Justice for racial discrimination, but it DID happen and it was nothing new for the family. Don’s dad, Fred, was already infamous and had been forced to testify to the US Senate for skirting rules, taking shortcuts, and working politics and politicians for his personal benefit.

Trump fans worldwide dismiss the “guy is a racist” claims as leftist propaganda and, for the most part, deny the existence of any real proof. We have found few with any familiarity with this 1973 case and the ones that do have some knowledge of the case dismiss it with an excuse that Donald, as “the boss”, was clearly at too high a level to concern himself with such details.

The language in the eventual 1975 consent decree against him, his father, and his company should disavow anybody of that notion.

Family Traditions

As background to this story, Fred Trump drew the attention of Woody Guthrie, a veteran and one of his tenants in Trump’s infamous all white (except maybe two people) 1800 person Beach Haven housing project intended for US veterans.

It’s an interesting story of Trump being investigated for overbilling the FHA millions, the language in the FHA regulations that was interpreted (probably correctly) as racially discriminatory, and an hubris laden set of Senate hearings.

So, Trump was on the radar for shady manipulations since the Eisenhower administration.

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project ….

No Vacancy (for you)

Untitled-1In 1973, the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department had completed an investigation into allegations that the Trumps had systematically discriminated against blacks in their rental policies for their 14,000 apartments.

There was already a history of at least seven complaints of discriminatory practices filed against Trump properties with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Before dismissing this as “just normal landlord business”, feel free to find other companies with similar complaint records.

Alfred Hoyt, a black man, approached Trump’s Westminster apartment complex to rent a two-bedroom apartment and was told there were none available. His white wife, Sheila, was offered a two-bedroom apartment the next day.

Godfrey Jacobs, a black Urban League tester, went to the Beach Haven Apartments (sound familiar?) in Sheepshead Bay and found no vacancy while white tester George Sim Johnston found a rental at that building that same day.

While the Trumps WOULD rent certain apartments in certain neighborhoods to black people, other Trump buildings were strictly off limits to black people.

The Feds Move In

It was a landmark case of enforcement of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Don’s initial response was, according to the Washington Post:

…holding forth at a news conference in a Manhattan hotel to decry the government’s arguments as “such outrageous lies.” He would also say that the company wanted to avoid renting apartments to welfare recipients of any color but never discriminated based on race.

untitledDon also took a ride to Le Club to find and hire flamboyant mob lawyer Roy Cohn to litigate the case. That same year, Cohn was defending John Gotti for murder, worked a plea deal to get a four year sentence and had Gotti out in two.

Cohn became a mentor for Don, was implicated in a death when his former Malcolm Forbes yacht “Defiance” was allegedly scuttled, and was disbarred months before his death. The relationship between Cohn and Trump is an interesting story for another time.

Cohn’s response was his usual aggressive counter-attack, now a familiar Trump technique, counter-suing the Feds for $100 million for falsely accusing them of discrimination.

Rental Applications Marked “Colored”

Black and white Urban League volunteers went to Trump buildings in Brooklyn and Queens with the stated intent of renting an apartment.

In July, 1972, a black woman approached the Shorehaven Apartments in Brooklyn to rent an apartment. She was told nothing was available. The white woman that came by later was told  she could take her pick of two apartments. The same pattern was repeated, black renters were either denied outright or steered toward apartment buildings that were deemed more suitable for them.

Testimony revealed that the Trumps told independent rental agents to discourage rental to blacks and that a code was in effect, blacks would be referred to as “No. 9.” Further testimony by a Trump employee indicated he was instructed to mark ALL rental applications from blacks with the letter “C” (colored).

Work The Press, Deny Everything

Working a strategy that he has refined into a successful bid for the GOP nomination, Don began working the press. He rattled around town playing the victim to all the media outlets that would listen. His schtick was to accuse the federal government of a concerted effort to force suffering landlords to “force owners of moderate and luxury apartments to rent to welfare recipients.”

Trump had to testify in 1974, again a pattern familiar to people currently watching the political campaign emerged.

Don denied everything. He claimed he was unfamiliar with the Fair Housing Act, so it couldn’t have affected the Trump rental policies. He claimed he had no idea what the racial mix was in any of his apartments, yet later slipped and blurted out a description of a building in Washington as “an all-black job”.

He was eventually forced to concede that the Trumps owned 100 percent white projects.

Another interesting twist in the proceedings was Trump’s insistence that the only rental criteria they enforced was that rent couldn’t exceed 25% of the tenant’s income. The run is that he also testified “we don’t generally include the wife’s income; we like to see it for the male in the family.”

Cohn, or somebody, must have chirped in Don’s ear about that testimony sounding both racist and sexist, since it’s “common knowledge” that single mother households are more common in certain demographic groups. So, Don “did a Trump” and simply changed his sworn testimony the next day.

Truth Is A Slippery Thing For Trump

The Village Voice piece has this passage:

Shortly after he’d given his deposition, he was interviewed by a field investigator for the secretary of state. The interview had nothing to do with the federal case; the investigator was trying to determine if Trump met the experience requirement for a real-estate broker’s license. The report states: “Mr. Trump further stated that he supervises and controls the renting of all apartments owned by the Trump organization…During my interview with applicant he showed me hundreds of files…Each contained numerous leases both for commercial and residential tenants…and rental records, all of which contained applicant’s signature and handwriting.” Trump’s lawyer, Mathew Tosti, also claimed in a letter to the secretary of state that Trump had “negotiated numerous leases for apartments.”

Yet he’d testified in federal court:
Government:“Do you ever have anything to do with rental decisions in individual cases?
Trump:“No, I really don’t.”

Both statements can’t be true. Trump apologists often dismiss “company” processes like rental policies, as being beneath the attention level of Don as “the boss”. In this case, Don was 27 and just starting and, based upon lease paperwork on his desk with his signature, was hands-on and instrumental in racially discriminatory company policies.


Don frequently says he “doesn’t settle” because it would make him look weak, yet he has a long string of settlements, including in this case. Settling offers him the option of declaring a “victory” while obviously losing. “They didn’t win!” is a true statement while “I won!” is less so in most of his settled cases.

In a last-ditch effort to have the rental agreement “C” marking tossed, Cohn went aggressive by drafting an affidavit for the employee that had made the “C” allegation, which the employee signed. The affidavit claimed the employee was coerced into making the statement by Justice Department lawyer Donna Goldstein. In the affidavit, the employee stated he was hired directly by Donald Trump.

The judge, noting the inflammatory language (“descending upon the Trump offices with five stormtroopers”), tossed the accusations in a hearing as “utterly without foundation.”

With that, Fred and Don instructed Cohn to cut a deal with the Justice Department.

Coming To Terms

Trump was instructed to provide the New York Urban League a list of all apartment vacancies every week for two years. Further, the court mandated that Trump allow the Urban League to present qualified applicants for every fifth vacancy in Trump buildings with less than 10% black residency.

There was no admission of guilt anywhere in the agreement, an important component in most Trump settlements.

Trump was quick to declare victory, stating the settlement didn’t “compel the Trump organization to accept persons on welfare as tenants unless as qualified as any other tenant.”

The Federal Government also declared victory. 

Epilogue, Sort Of

Less than three years later, the Department of Justice filed a motion for supplemental relief asking for an extension of the decree. Why? The DOJ charged that the Trumps weren’t complying with the terms in the decree, alleging:

“racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity.”

As far as real change in Trump policies, in 1983 a non-profit fair-housing group, the Metropolitan Action Institute, found that two Trump Village facilities were sitting at a 95% white majority according to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

It’s difficult to imagine that this single case wouldn’t make even an ardent Don supporter consider him racially biased unless they also embraced housing segregation as a good business AND ethical practice.

Further reading, if you’re interested or assume the above information is cherry picked from communist propaganda. Obviously, there are more sources than this available, including court documents if one wished to pursue it THAT far. The Village Voice piece is great reading and great insight into Donald Trump, the Washington Post piece is solid material on this case as is The Daily Beast piece. The problem with finding more right leaning information on the web? It doesn’t fit the current Trump narrative.

New York Times
For Starrett City, An Integration Test (10/16/1983)

Washington Post
Inside the government’s racial bias case against Donald Trump’s company, and how he fought it (01/23/2016)

The Real Deal
Crossing Trump (04/01/2016)

The Village Voice
How a Young Donald Trump Forced His Way From Avenue Z to Manhattan

The Conversation
Woody Guthrie, ‘Old Man Trump’ and a real estate empire’s racist foundations

The Daily Beast
Ike Didn’t Like Donald Trump’s Dad at All (11/22/2015)
DOJ: Trump’s Early Businesses Blocked Blacks (12/14/2015)

The Atlantic
The Racist Housing Policy That Made Your Neighborhood (04/22/2014)

United States Department of Justice
Fair Housing Act

My Bizarre Dinner Party with Donald Trump, Roy Cohn and Estee Lauder

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1973 | Meet Donald Trump

Don’t Mess With Roy Cohn (12/05/1978)