5 Black Women Who Could Still Take Down Donald Trump
A look at the Black women prosecutors, lawmakers, and elected leaders who are pursuing criminal or civil charges against the former president.
March 31, 2021 at 10:13 pm
Former President Donald Trump has remained largely out of the spotlight since he was banned from social media and high-tailed it out of Washington, D.C. before President Joe Biden was even sworn in. Yet, the 45th president occasionally resurfaces to mock his rivals and tease a potential 2024 presidential run.
For that to be a viable option, though, he will have to escape the myriad of potential civil and even criminal charges he could face in the near future, as everything from his past business dealings to his role in inciting the Capitol Hill insurrection comes under scrutiny. And across a variety of jurisdictions, Black women are largely leading the charge to hold Trump accountable.
Now, we all know that Trump cannot actually stand up to a Black woman -- here are five who can hold his feet to the fire.
1. Letitia James, Attorney General, New York Attorney General
When Letitia "Tish" James was inaugurated as Attorney General of the State of New York in 2019, she not only became the first Black person and first woman to hold the office but also moved to the front of the line in investigating then-President Trump’s shady dealings. Trump’s skirting of the law started long before he ever stepped into the political arena, going back through his decades as a New York-based real estate developer and business mogul.
Upon taking office, James has headed an investigation of the Trump Organization. In 2019, she forced Trump to enter into a $2 million settlement for “personally misusing funds at the Trump Foundation," his charity organization.
In January, James won a court victory that forced the Trump team to hand over years of financial records, giving her office access to records that Trump has been fighting for years to keep secret. James’ investigation is focused on whether or not Trump manipulated his net worth in order to avoid paying taxes. If Trump is eventually found guilty, he will potentially face millions in back taxes and penalties, as well as a major hit to his reputation as a successful businessman.
The aforementioned will surely be enough for Trump to finally remember Tish's name.
2. Fani Willis, District Attorney for Fulton County, GA
Despite losing the 2020 election to Biden, Trump adamantly refused to concede defeat. Despite losing dozens of court challenges to the election, Trump persisted by attempting to pressure officials in multiple states to overturn their states’ election results and hand him unearned victories. Perhaps the most notorious example of this was the hourlong phone call that Trump held with George Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During the call, which was leaked by the Georgia Republican’s office, Trump sounded more like a mob boss than a president as he pressured Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” the exact amount he would have needed to win the vote in Georgia.
This call and other potential acts of election interference by Trump and his allies in Georgia are all being investigated by Fani Willis, the District Attorney for Fulton County, which contains most of Atlanta. Even though Willis has publicly stated that she is in “no rush” to wrap up her investigation, behind the scenes action has apparently already shifted to high gear, with reports that grand jury proceedings are underway and that subpoenas will be issued soon.
If Willis uncovers enough evidence – in addition to the phone call that will likely be key to any prosecution – Trump could face felony charges of soliciting falsification of election documents, which carries a prison sentence of between one and three years. And since he likes to talk like a mobster, Trump could even face additional charges under the Georgia version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, usually used to go after organized crime. Trump was apparently not a fan of The Wire, so it bears repeating: never “tak[e] notes on a criminal f**king conspiracy.”
3. Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
Georgia is not the only state where Trump attempted to change the election results. He also interfered in Michigan, where he pressured local officials to throw out votes from residents of Detroit and even summoned the state’s Republican legislative leaders to the White House to personally push them to overturn the vote.
As NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) President Sherrilyn Ifill helpfully pointed out, Trump’s approach to the election was to challenge votes in areas such as Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia. Hmm, what do these places all have in common? (Black people. The answer is Black people.)
In response to this attempt at mass Black disenfranchisement, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund filed suit against Trump on behalf of three Detroit residents and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. The suit accuses Trump of violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Ifill and the LDF hope to use this suit to hold Trump and the Republican National Committee responsible for pressuring election officials and to prevent them from committing similar acts in the future.
4. Rep. Bonnie Watson Colemen of New Jersey
When all of Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the November election failed, his last ditch effort involved summoning an angry crowd to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 and then sending them to Capitol Hill as Congress was certifying the election results. The resulting Capitol Hill insurrection left several people dead, including Capitol Hill police officer Brian Sicknick, and threatened the lives of the country’s top elected officials.
One of those officials was Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, who had to flee the angry mod and who ended up testing positive for COVID-19 after being in lockdown with maskless Republican legislators during the Capitol Hill siege.
Watson Coleman voted to impeach Trump for sending the riotous crowd to the Capitol, and even though he survived his Senate trial, she’s not done yet at holding him legally accountable for the chaos on Capitol Hill. She is now signing on to a lawsuit by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP alleging that Trump’s actions violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act. This Reconstruction-era law made it illegal for groups like the KKK to use “force, intimidation, or threat” to interfere with public officials fulfilling their duties.
The new suit alleges that Trump and white nationalist groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers -- ringleaders of the mob appropriately dubbed the “Coup Klux Klan” in Indian media – conspired to prevent Congress from certifying the election. In addition to this latest effort to hold Trump accountable for Jan. 6, Rep Watson Coleman also introduced legislation to posthumously award Officer Sicknick the Congressional Gold Medal for his service and sacrifice protecting her and her colleagues that day.
5. Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington, D.C.
The repercussions of the Capitol Hill insurrection reverberated throughout Washington, D.C., most of which falls under the government of Mayor Muriel Bowser. Mayor Bowser declared a two-week state of emergency throughout D.C. in response to the insurrection and fears of further unrest. She has repeatedly called for President Trump to be held accountable for unleashing “domestic terrorism” on the city.
While Capitol Hill falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government, Mayor Bowser’s office may have some power to charge the president criminally for the unrest. Specifically, Washington, D.C. may be able to charge Trump with a 2011 statue that makes it a crime to “incite or provoke violence where there is a likelihood that such violence will ensue." Though the charge would be a misdemeanor, it could come with up to six months of jail time if D.C. were to get a conviction against the former president. With this prospect, it's doubtful Trump is happy that the woman who once had “Black Lives Matter” painted in giant letters in front of the White House is in his face again.
With a number of powerful Black women in various positions of government investigating the former president, there’s a high chance that he will made to answer for some of the many misdeeds he’s alleged to have committed before and during his presidency. And as Trump continues to wield significant power within the Republican Party and among conservatives, these efforts to hold him accountable may be the latest example of Black women saving America.