New York City Cops Don’t Seem To Know That Trump Salutes And Honors Police-Assaulters

NEW YORK — Donald Trump, who is accused of dozens of felonies and literally salutes violent rioters who assaulted police officers, has nevertheless been treated like a hero by New York City police officers during his criminal trial — possibly because many are unaware of his pledge to pardon those who attacked officers during his Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt.

“That’s news to me,” said one on a lower Manhattan street corner that the former president’s motorcade had just driven past.

“I had not heard that,” said another near the parked black shuttle buses that have been ferrying Trump’s congressional supporters — who attack the trial judge and district attorney on his behalf — to and from Trump Tower.

In fact, of two dozen New York City police officers interviewed by HuffPost within a few blocks of the Centre Street courthouse where a jury will soon decide his fate, only one said he knew that Trump routinely honors the Jan. 6 police-assaulters and plans to pardon them.

“I don’t think that should happen,” said the officer who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to talk to the press while in uniform and on duty. “I think that sets a bad example. If you do a crime, you should be held accountable for it.”

At his rallies, the former and would-be future president stands at attention and even salutes while a recording of the national anthem, sung by Jan. 6 jail detainees who violently assaulted police on that day, is played over the loudspeakers. In speech after speech, he has called those accused and, in many cases, convicted of felonies “hostages” and “political prisoners,” and has vowed to grant them pardons if he is elected.

Trump, who faces 88 felony charges himself, throughout his criminal trial has been treated like a celebrity by New York City police officers, nonetheless. Video from April 16, for example, shows him shaking hands and taking photos with a group of officers outside a campaign stop following that day’s court proceedings.

“That’s not the police officers’ initiative. That’s him wanting to shake hands,” said one officer last week, adding that he also did not know about Trump’s promise to pardon those who had assaulted his fellow officers. “I don’t know anything about that.”

The New York Police Department did not respond to HuffPost queries about officers’ interactions with an accused criminal currently on trial, particularly one who promises to pardon those convicted of assaulting police officers.

The city’s Police Benevolent Association, which endorsed Trump in 2020, also did not respond to HuffPost queries on those same topics. The group typically issues fiery responses when someone accused of assaulting an officer is not kept in jail pending trial or is otherwise treated leniently.

“Criminals who assault police officers are seeing no jail time,” the union wrote in a Jan. 3 press release earlier this year.

A month later, upon the announcement of additional indictments against gang members who had attacked officers in Times Square in late January, the union said: “They should be in jail. We won’t call it justice until they are all behind bars.”

The group’s website does not indicate whether the union has condemned Trump for his stance on those who assaulted police on Jan. 6. It also did not issue a statement condemning the Jan. 6 rioters whose actions injured 140 police officers and led to the deaths of five in the following days and months. The union’s then-president did criticize the mob two days later but, notably, did not criticize Trump for having instigated the attack.

Trump’s reception from police officers in New York is similar to the one he gets from officers around the country. He typically has a line of officers willing to shake his hand and be photographed with him when he boards his plane after a campaign visit.

The Trump campaign has over a period of many months never responded to HuffPost questions about his praise for and promises to pardon Jan. 6 rioters who assaulted police, and did not respond this time, either.

The affinity of many police officers for Trump, despite Jan. 6 and despite all the charges he faces, does not surprise Zachary Carter, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn who more recently led New York City’s legal office.

“He gives cops permission to give in to their worst impulses,” Carter said of Trump, recalling a speech in which Trump told police they didn’t need to be so careful about preventing head injuries to people they arrest as they put them in the back seat of their cruisers. “Is there a certain kind of cop receptive to someone who gives out that signal? Yes.”

Carter said Trump also enjoys the sort of admiration some people have for members of the Mafia. “Organized crime figures have a cult following. Even people in law enforcement are drawn to it,” he said.

Trump is currently on trial on charges that he falsified business records to hide a $130,000 hush payment to a porn star to keep her claim about a sexual encounter with him from coming out before the 2016 election. Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday morning, with the jury set to receive the case for deliberations after that.

If convicted, Trump could receive up to four years in prison.

Trump is also facing prosecutions in three other jurisdictions. A federal indictment in Washington, D.C., and a state court indictment in Georgia are both based on his actions leading up to his coup attempt. A second federal indictment in South Florida is based on his refusal to turn over secret documents he took with him to his Palm Beach country club when he left the White House.

If convicted on the more serious charges in these cases, he could receive decades in prison.

Despite all these cases, though, Trump was overwhelmingly chosen by Republican primary voters as their presidential nominee for November.

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