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Trump spreads a rap-centered conspiracy theory in Willis attack

Trump’s racist and sexist diatribe against Fani Willis mirrors a conspiratorial claim spread by a hip-hop associate in his orbit.


The alliance between men in the hip-hop media space and right-wing extremists remains one of the saddest and most cynical developments in politics in recent years. 

Donald Trump’s racist and sexist diatribe against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis just gave us another data point.

If you’re not extremely online, the grotesque allegations probably made no sense to you. But they have been spread for months by a hip-hop associate in the former president’s orbit, which seems to me like a possible attempt to have his potential Georgia charges tried in the court of public opinion, and to curry favor with Black men who may be susceptible to conspiratorial rants

On Tuesday, the former president said:

I probably have another one [indictment] — they say there’s a young woman, a young racist, in Atlanta. She’s a racist. And they say, I guess, they say that she was after a certain gang and she ended up having an affair with the head of the gang, or a gang member. And this is the person that wants to indict me. She’s got a lot of problems.

NBC News confirmed that Willis sent a memo to her staff Wednesday calling the ad “derogatory and false” and telling staff members not to respond.

But where did Trump get these claims? Possibilities abound.

The gross conspiracy theory about Willis having an affair has been spread by people following the Young Slime Life racketeering trial in Atlanta to suggest that she has engaged in impropriety that could ruin her case against rapper Young Thug (whose real name is Jeffery Williams). 

Trump-loving hip-hop podcaster DJ Akademiks — known for largely false and misogynistic coverage of hip-hop culture — has spent months baselessly alleging that Willis had a romantic relationship with a central figure in Young Thug’s trial. The podcaster is an internet troll and was back at it Wednesday, promoting and lending credence to Trump’s false claims on social media. 

For their part, Trump and his team have spent days misrepresenting a Rolling Stone article about Willis’ previous work as a defense attorney for an associate of Young Thug’s.  

Last week, Trump shared an ad attacking Willis and other prosecutors probing him. In the ad, a voice says Willis was “caught hiding a relationship with a gang member she was prosecuting,” while text on the screen seemingly cites Rolling Stone as saying she was a “lawyer” for him.

But Team Trump didn’t just misstate Willis’ working relationship with a client — whom she was defending, not prosecuting — they also misrepresented the Rolling Stone article, in which the client said he and Willis had “auntie-to-nephew, mother-to-son type of talks” — not an “affair,” as Trump claimed Tuesday. 

Rolling Stone staff writer Andre Gee, the author of the article, debunked Trump’s claims in an interview Wednesday with Joy on “The ReidOut.” 

Trump’s claim that Willis is “racist” arguably has a hip-hop connection as well.   

As I wrote in January, Trump’s lawyer in Fulton County — Drew Findling — has a history of defending high-profile Black rappers in racketeering cases, and he has decried the use of RICO charges in Atlanta as “racist.” Findling seems eager to use any goodwill he might have from defending rich Black celebs to try to shield Trump. That was my interpretation of a March interview he gave to MSNBC’s Ari Melber, in which Findling suggested that Trump was being treated like Black men who have been violated by the justice system.

Taken together, I think Trump’s diatribe points to a troubling reality: He’s wielding rap-centered lies in an attempt to malign Willis and undermine her election probe. And there are people in hip-hop willing to help him.