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Trump Raid Can Satisfy Your O.J. Simpson–Scandal Nostalgia

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer. Photos: Getty Images

Gen Z is bringing back the ’90s, as I’ve gleaned from TikToks in which children mock elder millennials like myself for refusing to go back to a world of midriff-baring tops and low-rise jeans. The kids are, rightly, not huge fans of Donald Trump, but now the former president has presented them with a rare opportunity. Just take a look at this “truth” he posted Friday morning about the Mar-a-Lago raid.

I get why the idea that law-enforcement officials planted information during their search reminds Trump “of a Christofer [sp.] Steele Dossier!” — if you want to keep the crowd happy, you’ve got to play the hits. But for people who lived through the ’90s and aren’t just coming up with spurious explanations for why their home was raided by the FBI, a national debate over whether law enforcement framed a huge celebrity conjures images of one thing: the O.J. Simpson trial.

There are actually a lot of similarities between the Trump-raid story and the Simpson “Trial of the Century.” If you’re looking for a hit of nostalgia, this is your big chance to obsessively follow and mock a serious crime story, then feel weird about it decades later. There’s really nothing more ’90s than that.


Both stories dominated the news and divided America.

Are you so sick of hearing about Trump that you’re having a hard time forcing yourself to care about this absolutely wild moment in American history? Is everyone you know divided into two camps: one that believes a certain celebrity is getting away with brazen crimes and another that thinks he’s being unfairly persecuted?

This is what it was like to live through the O.J. Simpson story. Americans talked about little else from June 17, 1994, when O.J.’s Bronco chase riveted us to our grainy 4:3 television sets, to October 3, 1995, when the nation was so stunned by Simpson’s acquittal that not a single Domino’s pizza was ordered for five minutes.

It is impossible to truly replicate the Simpson trial’s media dominance since we had only a limited number of live-TV-viewing options rather than an endless supply of fresh streaming content. Although I was only in elementary school at the time, I consumed an appalling amount of information about the double-murder trial; I even had an O.J. Simpson Pog slammer.


Both Trump and Simpson say they were framed.

We can all draw our own conclusions about the two stars’ relationship with the truth. But regardless of whether we believe them, both men insist they’ve been unjustly targeted by law enforcement — and at times they’ve backed each other up on this point.

Simpson and Trump were once close enough friends that the football star attended the mogul’s 1993 wedding to Marla Maples. This was about six months before Simpson was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 but found liable for their deaths in a 1997 civil suit.

While Black and white Americans were famously divided on the question of Simpson’s guilt, majorities of both groups now believe he is guilty. It appears Trump’s opinion has evolved, too. In a 1995 appearance on Howard Stern’s radio show, Trump said he thought Simpson was framed — echoing the main argument from Simpson’s defense — as “50 people could have planted” the blood found in his Bronco. In a 2008 interview with Stern, though, Trump said he abandoned Simpson when he “realized he killed his wife.” But he still pitched him as a Celebrity Apprentice contestant (giving NBC executives a “heart attack”) because “there’s a thing called ratings.”

Similarly, just this week, Simpson urged people not to jump to conclusions about his former pal. In this Mar-a-Lago-raid commentary nobody asked for, he recalled that the FBI raided his Florida home, too, saying, “My point is the FBI can be wrong, even though it’s hard to believe that Merrick Garland and some federal judge signed off on this.”


Both scandals involve golf, football, and Alan Dershowitz.

On the night of the murders, Simpson flew from L.A. to Chicago for a promotional golf tournament, and later a young Kim Kardashian searched his golf bag for a murder weapon. Trump likes to golf when he visits Mar-a-Lago (though the resort itself is not a golf club), and he once met with Kim Kardashian in the Oval Office. Attorney Alan Dershowitz was part of Simpson’s “Dream Team,” and he defended Trump in his first impeachment trial. Simpson was known as a Heisman Trophy winner and record-setting pro-football player prior to the murders. The FBI was reportedly looking for documents on nuclear weapons in Trump’s home, and … the bag containing the codes to launch a nuclear strike is known as a football?

Okay, I’ll admit those are all just red herrings. But the overlapping terms do give the two sagas similar vibes, and I hear we’re now all about vibes.


Both men may be held accountable only for stealing their own memorabilia.

Does it seem weird that, after being accused of all manner of crimes with few legal consequences, the FBI is finally going after Trump for some missing presidential papers? Well, it’s a lot like seeing Simpson acquitted in a double-murder trial only to end up spending nine years behind bars for stealing memorabilia from his football career. No one ever said ’90s culture made sense.

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Trump Raid Can Satisfy Your O.J. Simpson–Scandal Nostalgia