Donald Trump's America is not my America

When the Mueller investigation comes to ask Donald Trump questions, they won't kick in his door

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published January 13, 2018 4:00PM (EST)

 (Getty/Ron Sachs)
(Getty/Ron Sachs)

And just when you think America can’t be any more offensive, it offends you even more.

I got a call the other day from a close childhood friend who is currently serving time in federal prison. He’s 11 years in on a 27-year bid, to be exact. No weapons, no shoot-outs, no dangling people out of a window­; he didn’t live like Scarface. His time stems from petty drug charges.

“Yo! D. Watk,” he said, “thanks for the pictures, bro! How you holding up?”

“I’m cool, brother, maintaining, out here trippin' off of this Trump guy.”

“Yo, what he do now?” he replied.

It’s funny how our incarcerated family wakes up to the same questions about our president as those of us on the outside. What did he do now? Is America gone yet, are we still a country?

“So, check this out," I said. "Let’s say Trump ran a dope strip, right. He’s the boss and a bunch of his key underbosses and workers already got indicted, copped out, or admitted their wrongdoing to the feds. Man, his old campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy Richard Gates are fighting accusations of money laundering and tax fraud, and his former national security advisor Michael Flynn and campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos have both pleaded guilty to lying to the feds!”

“Oh, the feds don’t play,” he laughed. “So basically what you saying is Trump about to go down this week? He coming inside here with me? Oh bro, I’mma steal his wig.”

“No!” I laughed. “That’s the crazy part!”

See, when my friend was arrested for those petty drug crimes, he and the other people wrapped up in the indictment were snatched up within the same few days. Federal agents didn’t dance around mountains of evidence — they found no piles of drugs and stacks of guns­­, because they didn't exist. Still, they kicked in his door at 4 a.m., slammed him on the floor, stomped him out in their work boots, told his crying daughter to shut the f**k up and took him to the station. There he sat until they basically forced him to take the 27 years. “Take this 27 or I’m pushing for 60 years, and our conviction rate is over 95 percent,” is what the prosecutor told him. So yeah, he had to take the time. We've been trying to keep his spirits up ever since.

A black man with petty drug charges gets a beating before being dragged into custody, while Trump, a person who could have possibly worked with Russia to steal our highest office, gets to negotiate how he chooses to be interviewed by the special prosecutor, after the people on his team lied? What a joke. When did the feds become so user-friendly? Like, I understand that the president gets a certain amount of courtesy and I don't expect them to kick the White House door in or anything, but this is just getting silly.

“So, get this bro,” I said. “Mueller, the guy running the investigation, wants to interview Trump, but Trump's lawyers want him to get a set of written questions that he can complete on his own and send back in.”

“Like a take home test?”

“Like a take home test!” I laughed; he laughed even louder. “Knowing Trump won’t be the one answering those questions. He probably won’t even see them! His lawyers said they don’t want him to be interrogated by federal prosecutors because they fear that he might incriminate himself. I can't make this up.”

“Ay yo, ain’t that the point? The feds press people until they pop, right? They made some of the toughest gangstas in the world squeal," he said. "Man, I swear, it must feel good to be rich and white.”

And that’s the other America ­— the one people like my friend and I will never have access to. Knowing the special rights a person like Trump enjoys makes it easy to have little or no hope in our system at all.

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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Donald Trump Drug War Incarceration Life Stories Mueller Investigation Prison Robert Mueller War On Drugs