In an interview with Larry King in 1989 unearthed from CNN's archives, Trump laid out his position, telling King, "maybe hate is what we need if we're gonna get something done." Delivering a similar message to one he takes on the campaign trail today, Trump also advocated for more protections for police.
The case involved five teenage boys of color, who were wrongly accused and convicted of beating and raping a woman in Central Park. Trump purchased full-page ads that ran in several New York City newspapers that read,"Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!"
In the interview with King, Trump defended the ads.
"I don't see anything inciteful, I am strongly in favor of the death penalty," Trump told King. "I am also in favor bringing back police forces that can do something instead of turning their back because every quality lawyer that represents people that are trouble, the first thing they do is start shouting police brutality, etc."
"I have never done anything that's caused a more positive stir. I've had 15,000 — 15,000 — letters in the last week and a half," continued Trump. "I don't know of more than two or three that were negative out of 15,000. The ad's basically very strong and vocal, they are saying bring back law and order. And I'm not just referring to New York, I'm referring to everything."
The men were later exonerated in 2002, when another man confessed to the crime and DNA backed up his confession. Trump wrote an op-ed in the New York Daily News in 2014, calling New York City's $41 million settlement with the five men "a disgrace.'
Speaking with King in 1989, Trump said he had the support of 90% of the public, adding that 40% of newspaper columnists agreed.
"I had some women the other day stick a microphone in my face from one of the major networks, 'but don't you have compassion for these young men? That raped and beat and mugged and everything else this wonderful women,'" said Trump. "Do I have hatred for them?"
"And I said, look this women was raped, mugged, and thrown off a building -- thrown off a building on top of everything else," continued Trump. "She's got some major problems to put it mildly. I said, 'of course I hate these people and let's all hate these people because maybe hate is what we need if we're gonna get something done.'"
Trump told King his newspaper ads were not "pre-judging" the five teens, but rather advocating for their execution if they were to be found guilty. Trump also explained his ad didn't apply to minors, but said minors convicted of crimes should be locked up for a long time in the prison system.
Trump said police were afraid of being charged with police brutality and the criminal justice system provided too many rights to alleged criminals.
"The problem we have is we don't have any protection for the policeman. The problem with our society is the victim has absolutely no rights and the criminal has unbelievable rights -- unbelievable rights. And I say it has to stop, and that's why I took the ad and I have to tell you, that ad, I have never done anything that's been so positively received. People are tired, sick and tired of what's happening."