Did Trump Say Black People Like Him Because of His Criminal Charges?

The former U.S. president spoke at the Black Conservative Federation's annual gala in February 2024.

Published Feb. 27, 2024

 (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Image Via Sean Rayford/Getty Images

On Feb. 23, 2024, a segment of a speech made by former U.S. President Donald Trump at the Black Conservative Federation gala went viral due to confusing remarks in which he appeared to claim that Black people liked him because of his numerous criminal indictments. 

Social media users posited differing interpretations of what he meant. According to one variant, he said, "I got indicted and lot of people said that's why the black people like me…" According to another, he claimed outright that Black people love him "because he's a criminal." The most popular variant appeared to be "Trump tells Black conservatives his criminal charges are 'why the Black people like me.'"

In all these cases, Trump's actual words were only quoted in part (if at all) and divorced from their larger context. This is what Trump actually said

But I got indicted for nothing, for something that is nothing. They were doing it because it was election interference. And then I got indicted a second time and a third time and a fourth time, and a lot of people said that 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.

Trump didn't say he's a criminal. He didn't say Black people like him because of his criminal indictments. He claimed that "a lot of people said" Black people like him because he, like them, has faced discrimination in the legal system. 

The full speech is available on C-SPAN. He made the above statement around the 16-minute mark of the video. Applause can be heard as he said those words.

He added, "Black conservatives understand better than most that some of the greatest evils in our nation's history have come from corrupt systems that try to target and subjugate others to deny them their freedom and to deny them their rights. [...] I think that's why the Black people are so much on my side now because they see what's happening to me happens to them."

He also talked about his mugshot and how it had apparently gained popularity among Black people: "My mug shot — we've all seen the mug shot, and you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The Black population," Trump said. "You see Black people walking around with my mug shot, you know, they do shirts and they sell them for $19 apiece. It's pretty amazing — millions by the way."

To a round of applause and laughter, he said, "The lights are so bright in my eyes, and 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."

Toward the latter half of his speech he said his indictments were a "badge of honor" because "I'm being indicted for you, the American people. I'm being indicted for you, the Black population. I am being indicted for a lot of different groups by sick people, these are sick, sick people." 

Trump described himself as "standing in the way" of "our enemies" who wanted to take away his freedom, "because I will never let them take away your freedom." 

Trump's comments specifically addressed his indictments and how they were perceived to be an injustice by him and his supporters, including Black people who apparently connected with him for that very reason. 


"Donald Trump Gives Remarks at Black Conservative Federation Gala." Feb. 23, 2024, C-SPAN.Org. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

McGraw, Meridith. "Trump to Black Voters: You 'Embraced' My Mugshot." POLITICO, Feb. 24, 2024, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

"Trump Says 'the Black People' like Him Because He's Been 'Discriminated against' in the Legal System." NBC News, Feb. 24, 2024, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

"Trump Talks to Black Voters Ahead of SC Primary." News 19 WLTX, Feb. 24, 2024., Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.