Trump Lawsuits Target Votes In Largely Black Cities, Alarm Civil Rights Groups Black voters in Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Atlanta were crucial to Joe Biden's victory. Those are also the places where President Trump's campaign has targeted its legal efforts.

Trump Push To Invalidate Votes In Heavily Black Cities Alarms Civil Rights Groups

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


The Trump administration may now be allowing the transition to the Biden administration to proceed, but President Trump and his allies are still working to reverse President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the courts. They focused on trying to throw out huge numbers of votes in several mostly Democratic cities with large Black populations, cities which the president and his campaign have painted as corrupt. NPR political reporter Juana Summers is here. She covers demographics and politics.

Hey, Juana.


CHANG: Hey. So you've been talking with Black leaders about Trump's efforts to overturn this election and those efforts of his Republican allies. What are you hearing from these leaders?

SUMMERS: Yeah. There has been a palpable sense of outrage as these folks have watched the president attempt to overturn the results of this election, particularly as he and his campaign are targeting ballots cast in cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta and Milwaukee. I spoke with Kristen Clarke. She is the executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

KRISTEN CLARKE: It is difficult for me to think of another president in modern time who has literally driven a national scheme to disenfranchise Black voters and other voters of color en masse in the way that we see with these post-election lawsuits.

SUMMERS: The president and his allies have presented no real evidence of voter fraud or widespread irregularities in any of those cities. And we should note that the courts have not sided with them and have repeatedly, in fact, denied their requests to invalidate ballots. Derrick Johnson is the president of the NAACP. He's among the critics of President Trump who say that he and his team are using tactics that remind them of those that were used to suppress the voices of Black voters after the Civil War.

DERRICK JOHNSON: This election cycle, what was attempted was that type of coup-like behavior to intimidate election workers, to malign anyone who disagreed with you, to seek to steal the outcome and the will of voters in a way that would have reflected something less than the democratic principles that this nation claimed to stand on.

CHANG: Well, how are the president and his allies responding to all of these allegations that they're trying to disenfranchise thousands of Black voters?

SUMMERS: Yeah. So the president's campaign and his allies have denied that there are racial motivations here. They say that their lawsuits and their recount strategy is not targeting Black voters. The campaign sent over a statement from senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis. It said - and I'm quoting here - "Every American deserves to know that our elections are conducted in a legal manner, no matter who they are or where they live. That is our only goal - to ensure safe, secure and fair elections. That is what our Constitution requires," end quote.

Now, we should note that the campaign did not respond specifically there to the claims of racism that are inherent here.

CHANG: Well, what about the Biden team? I mean, how are they responding to these allegations from Black voters?

SUMMERS: Yeah. Last week, Bob Bauer, who is a senior legal adviser to Biden's campaign, was asked about this on a call with reporters. And he said that this was, quote, "straight-out discriminatory behavior" and also said the Trump campaign's targeting of the Black community was not subtle. He even went on to call it extraordinary, brazen.

And to put this in a very quick political context, I think it's important to note that Black voters are a key constituency for the Democratic Party, and they were particularly pivotal in delivering Joe Biden the White House in this election season.

CHANG: That is NPR's Juana Summers.

Thank you, Juana.

SUMMERS: Thank you.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.