Veteran White House reporter and political analyst April Ryan confronted the president Tuesday over his past demands for the five, who were convicted as teenagers, to be executed and asked whether he would issue them an apology.
“You have people on both sides of that,” Trump replied after Ryan noted the men had been fully exonerated. “They admitted their guilt.”
The president went on to cite former prosecutor-turned-novelist Linda Fairstein, arguing that she and other investigators felt the case should’ve never been settled.
“They think the city should’ve never settled that case,” he added. “We’ll leave it at that.”
The five teens — Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray and Kevin Richardson — were wrongfully convicted in the rape and assault of Central Park jogger Trisha Meili in 1989. Trump, a millionaire real estate investor at the time, took out a full-page ad in multiple New York City newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty.
“BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE,” read the ads, which ran 10 days after the brutal assault occurred. “I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them.”
The teens, aged 14 to 16, would spend between six to 13 years in prison before DNA evidence and a confession from a convicted serial rapist would clear them in the heinous crime. Their case has garnered renewed interest in recent weeks, thanks to the new Netflix series “When They See Us,” which dramatizes the stories of the five Black and Latino teens.
Despite their convictions being thrown out, Trump has refused to apologize for his attacks on the men and continues to insist they’re guilty. The president’s most recent remarks drew a flurry of angry reactions.
“Trump today is STILL standing by his actions calling for the Central Park Five to get the death penalty,” White House reporter Jeremy Diamond tweeted. The men were exonerated in 2002 thanks to DNA & a convicted murderer & rapist’s confession.”
“Horrendous error by Trump,” wrote another. “The Central Park Five were rightfully exonerated.”
Watch more in the video below.
WATCH: President Trump declines to apologize to the exonerated Central Park Five, and asserts that “you have people on both sides” of their exoneration.— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 18, 2019
The case has received renewed attention in light of Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’. https://t.co/Sk2vHNmWsT pic.twitter.com/UFX7GIbF5D