Donald Trump’s lawyer thinks being Republican should be a ‘protected class’. Yes, really

Donald Trump speaks at a rally

Donald Trump’s lawyer has insisted that he should be considered a “protected class” because he’s a Republican.

On Thursday (17 February), judge Arthur Engoron ruled after a two-hour hearing that New York attorney general Letitia James will be able to question Trump and his two eldest children – Ivanka and Donald Jr – under oath, as part of a civil inquiry into his business practices.

Both James’s inquiry and a separate criminal investigation by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg both seek to assess whether Trump used financial statements to exaggerate the value of his assets to receive large loans.

But during the hearing, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba declared that in pursuing the case against him, James was “discriminating” against him for being a Republican.

According to Raw Story, Habba told the judge: “She has such disdain for this person because he was president, because he is Donald Trump and he could probably win again in ’24.

“He has First Amendment rights. He’s allowed to be a Republican… He’s a protected class.”

Confused, Engoron asked which protected class Trump was a part of.

Habba continued: “His political speech. If he was not sitting as a Republican and was not a former president who might run again, this would not be happening. So she is discriminating against him for that.”

Luckily, Engoron had a slightly firmer grasp on the law that Trump’s attorney.

He said: “The traditional protected classes are race, religion, etc. Donald Trump doesn’t fit that model. He’s not being discriminated against based on race, is he? Or religion, is he? He’s not a protected class.”

“If Ms James has a thing against him, OK, that’s not in my understanding unlawful discrimination,” Engoron added.

“He’s just a bad guy she should go after as the chief law enforcement officer of the state.”

Trump’s lawyer’s focus on discrimination was an odd direction to take, considering that as president, he was wholly uninteresting in protecting LGBT+ people from it.

During his presidency, Trump launched attack after attack on LGBT+ Americans, from banning transgender people from serving in the US military, to reversing discrimination protections for trans public school students and trans prisoners.

His Department of Justice filed briefs arguing that it was legal to fire workers based on their gender identity and sexuality, and Trump even tried to let healthcare workers discriminate against LGBT+ patients on religious grounds.

Habba’s claim that Trump is that he is being “discriminated” against as a “protected class” would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic, and Trump himself has even described himself as the victim of a “witch hunt”.

In a statement responding to Engoron’s ruling, he said: “It is a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in history. I can’t get a fair hearing in New York because of the hatred of me by judges and the judiciary.”

In her own response, New York attorney general James put it: “Today, justice prevailed. No one is above the law.”