At the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton brought up a notable and much-covered chapter in Donald Trump's business career: when the Justice Department in 1973 sued the Trump family real estate business founded by his father Fred for discriminating against African Americans seeking to rent apartments in its buildings in New York City and Norfolk, Virginia. Donald Trump, who was president of the firm at the time of the lawsuit, tried to downplay the matter, noting, "We along with many, many other companies throughout the country, it was a federal lawsuit, were sued. We settled the suit with zero -- with no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do." Trump didn't acknowledge that federal investigators had gathered compelling evidence of bias (Trump employees had coded applications from minorities with a "C" for colored) and that his company had fiercely battled the suit for two years before signing a consent decree -- hailed by equal housing advocates -- that would guarantee the desegregation of Trump properties. In 1978, though, the Justice Department accused the Trumps of violating the agreement and charged they were still discriminating against African Americans, but that case fizzled out by 1982.
Trump addressed none of these troubling details at the debate. Nor did he mention another relevant fact, which has not received prominent coverage during the current presidential campaign: just as the Trumps' standoff with the Justice Department was winding down, their real estate business was hit by a group of similar lawsuits for again allegedly discriminating against black New Yorkers looking for apartments.
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