Robert Mueller (Getty/Alex Wong)

New tack in right-wing Trump defense: The Mueller grand jury is too black

The New York Post and "Fox & Friends" focus on the racial makeup of the jury empaneled for the Russia investigation


Gabriel Bell
January 3, 2018 7:32PM (UTC)

In a new defense of President Donald Trump in the face of Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and elements of the Russian government, The New York Post published an account of the proceedings of the grand jury attached to the case Wednesday, one that suggested its racial makeup was not in the president's favor.

Appearing on the Post's gossip, entertainment and society column, Page Six, the article written by celeb whisperer Richard Johnson comes with the inflammatory title, "Russia probe grand jury looks like 'a Black Lives Matter rally,' says witness."

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Johnson wrote, "The federal grand jury handing down indictments for special counsel Robert Mueller doesn’t appear to include any supporters of President Donald Trump, according to one witness who recently testified before the panel." He quoted an unnamed source as saying, "The grand jury room looks like a Bernie Sanders rally . . .  Maybe they found these jurors in central casting, or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley [Calif.]"

Citing no one other than his source, Johnson added, "Of the 20 jurors, 11 are African-Americans and two were wearing 'peace T-shirts.'" The source added, "There was only one white male in the room, and he was a prosecutor." Johnson made clear that the prosecutor was not Mueller.

Johnson finished the article by again quoting his source, "That room isn’t a room where POTUS gets a fair shake."

There was no confirmation that Johnson's source accurately described the racial makeup of the grand jury or that the source actually witnessed its proceedings. Both the identities of the members of the grand jury and elements of its sessions are protected under law. The source did not disclose any of the actual subject matter being shown to the grand jury, something of considerably more objective interest and import than the backgrounds of those who comprise it.

That same morning, "Fox & Friends," which runs on Fox News — owned by the same group as the Post — discussed the Post's article with co-host Brian Kilmeade saying, "the story in the New York Post today that says one of the people that was asked to testify in front of this grand jury, they describe the jury as the people that would appear at a Bernie Sanders rally." He added, "So it's not even emblematic of something that might be perhaps demographically pursuing justice."

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Already, Fox News has gone to great lengths to paint the Mueller investigation as tainted by the unconfirmed biases of the special council, the FBI and other individuals either prosecuting or serving as witnesses for the ongoing case, something often reflected by Trump's tweets.

During that same exchange on "Fox & Friends," Kilmeade suggested that Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton campaign head John Podesta and a former lobbyist for Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, should be a person of interest in the investigations, despite the fact that he has no connections to the Trump campaign.

Guest Josh Holmes stated unequivocally, "What we found out from these investigations is there's absolutely no evidence of collusion. None whatsoever." The investigations have not revealed that at this time but instead led to a number of indictments pinned to associated elements of the case.

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Kilmeade's use of the idea of "demographically pursuing justice" oddly mirrors recent on-air statements by fellow Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who expressed concern over the theoretical, engineered "demographic replacement" of Republican voters in Virginia by a "flood of illegals." It was a statement that broadly aligned with various white nationalist talking points, as does the very idea that somehow a multiracial grand jury would not be able to render a just decision.


Gabriel Bell

Gabriel Bell is Salon's Deputy Culture Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @GabrielJBell

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