Trump taunts Biden on 1994 crime bill, black incarcerations

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President Trump took an opportunity Thursday night to remind voters of Joe Biden’s support for a controversial 1994 crime bill that many critics blame for high levels of incarceration among African-Americans.

The president’s Twitter message came the same night that Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, held a video town hall with Hollywood star Don Cheadle that was aimed at African-American voters.

“Sleepy Joe Biden’s 1994 Crime Bill was a total disaster,” Trump wrote. “It was mass incarceration for Black people, many of them innocent. I did Criminal Justice Reform, something Obama & Biden didn’t even try to do - & couldn’t do even if they did try. Biden can never escape his Crime Bill.”


Even Biden's fellow Democrats have criticized the former vice president over his crime bill, which was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton.

Last August, for example, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., then a primary competitor against Biden, called for the law resulting from the 1994 bill to be scrapped.

"The 1994 crime bill exacerbated incarceration rates in this country, punishing people more severely for even minor infractions, and limiting discretion in charging and sentencing in our judicial system,” Warren argued in a Medium post outlining her plan.

She emphasized that such a "tough on crime" approach “was wrong, it was a mistake, and it needs to be repealed."

As he runs for president, Biden has pitched a new criminal justice plan that would, for example, eliminate the discrepancies in prison sentencing for possession of crack versus powder cocaine -- gaps that many critics have said hurt minority offenders more than whites.

Trump has repeatedly argued that he has outperformed his White House predecessors on issues important to African-Americans and other minorities.

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who is African-American, touted the president’s record during an appearance on “Your World with Neil Cavuto.”

“Think about the jobs created,” Scott said about Trump’s first term, citing employment gains as an example. “Under this administration, we created over seven million jobs. Two-thirds of those jobs went to minorities and to women.”

Scott’s appearance came the same day Trump posted a Twitter message appealing to African-American voters.

“My Admin has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln," Trump tweeted. "Passed Opportunity Zones with @SenatorTimScott, guaranteed funding for HBCU’s, School Choice, passed Criminal Justice Reform, lowest Black unemployment, poverty, and crime rates in history.”


Biden’s online appearance with Cheadle appeared part of a stepped-up focus on African-American voters since his much-criticized “you ain’t black” gaffe in late May -- which he blamed on TV and radio host Charlamagne tha God "baiting" him.

Since then, Biden has appeared in an online video with actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key and posed for a photo with congregants of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del.

Fox News' :Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.