President Donald Trump responded to a question about the Central Park Five during his appearance before reporters on Tuesday, once again declining to apologize for his actions following the incident.
When asked by a reporter if he would apologize for his actions surrounding the case – he took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty that read: “Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!” – Trump instead asked why the topic was relevant.
“Why do you bring that question up now? It’s an interesting time to bring it up. You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt,” he said.
The five teenagers who were accused of raping a jogger were pressured into giving false confessions. They were later exonerated when DNA evidence linked another person to the crime. The teenagers sued the city and the case was settled.
Trump insisted that some of the prosecutors believe the lawsuit was mishandled.
“They think the city should never have settled that case. We’ll leave it at that,” Trump said.
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.”
In the 1989 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.”
At the time, 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 and the victim died. 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.