When O.J. Simpson was approached in a Las Vegas parking lot on Tuesday, a tabloid reporter asked about President Trump’s imminent address to Congress.
“What do you think about your buddy’s State of the Union tonight?” a TMZ reporter asked.
He demurred at first. Trump was a friend, he explained to TMZ. Simpson was even a guest at Trump’s second wedding in 1993, months before the gruesome double murder that would send Simpson to trial.
But that far in the past, when Simpson the football megastar knew Trump, the brash Manhattan tycoon — before their lives took wildly divergent paths. “I don’t know the president,” Simpson said. “I stay out of politics."
But avoiding politics would be hard to avoid if Trump was impeached. TMZ asked Simpson: did the former NFL star think that could happen?
“If he keeps hanging around with people like that Roger Stone,” Simpson said, referring to Trump’s longest-serving political adviser who was arrested last month and charged with seven counts, including lying to investigators, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
Stone criticized the FBI raid, calling it an overreach with more force used in raids involving Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Guzmán was captured amid deadly urban combat and bin Laden was shot twice in the head by a Navy SEAL before his corpse was dumped into the sea.
Simpson, a man with vast experience in the criminal justice system, pivoted his advice to Stone in a flash of showmanship that never quite left his body, even after the murder charges, the civil suits and felony convictions that sent him to prison for years.
“Let me say this. You know, I got raided by the FBI in Miami,” Simpson said, an apparent reference to a 2001 drug investigation that did not result in charges. "30-something FBI agents, 5 o clock in the morning, and I had more than dogs. I had kids there.”
Simpson added: “The FBI can be wrong, but to try and compare it to ‘El Chapo’ and bin Laden? Hey man, bin Laden was carried out in a bag, not walked out in handcuffs. So man up, stop crying.”
Trump’s connection to Simpson emerged in different ways after Simpson was accused in the 1994 murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in Los Angeles.
In the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “O.J.: Made in America,” one scene shows Simpson’s legal team rearranging his house to make him more appealing to the jurors in his murder trial. Among the changes made was removing photos showing him with wealthy white friends, including Trump.
Trump had also sought Simpson to appear on the “Celebrity Apprentice” television show, he told Howard Stern in 2008.
Simpson was acquitted of the murders, but he was later found to be liable for the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman in a civil suit.
He was sentenced to 33 years in prison following charges of armed robbery and kidnapping in a 2007 confrontation involving sports memorabilia. He was paroled in 2017.
Des Bieler contributed to this report.