Donald Trump doubled and even tripled down on his insistence that the judge in the fraud case against Trump University should recuse himself because of his Mexican heritage.
In a May 27 speech in San Diego, Trump spent 12 minutes talking about the lawsuit and bashing Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a former prosecutor who took on the Arellano Felix cartel before being appointed to the state bench by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California by President Obama in 2012.
“The trial is going to take place sometime in November. There should be no trial. This should have been dismissed on summary judgment easily,” Trump said during the rally. “Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.”
“The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?”
Curiel, who has delayed the start of the Trump trial until after the election in November, was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrant parents.
On the day of Trump’s speech, the judge approved a request by the Washington Post to release certain Trump University documents connected to the case.
In an interview aired today on CNN, Trump defended the defunct university, which he’s vowed to resurrect if elected president, as “fantastic.”
“I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall. I am going to do very well with the Hispanics, the Mexicans… I’m building a wall. I’m trying to keep business out of Mexico. Mexico is fine,” Trump said when pressed about his remarks by Jake Tapper.
“But he’s American. He’s an American,” Tapper said.
“He’s of Mexican heritage and he’s very proud of it, as I am where I come from, my parents,” Trump replied. “It’s a conflict of interest because of Mexico. I have a case that should have been dismissed already. I have thousands of people saying Trump University is fantastic, OK?”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) endorsed Trump on Thursday; on Friday, he told WISN in Milwaukee “the comment about the judge just was out of left field for my mind.”
“It’s reasoning I don’t relate to; I completely disagree with the thinking behind that,” Ryan added.
Trump told Tapper that “Paul Ryan doesn’t know the case.”
“Is it not, when Hillary Clinton says this is a racist attack and you reject that, if you are saying he can’t do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?” Tapper asked.
“No, I don’t think so at all,” Trump responded. “…But we’re building a wall. He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings, rulings that people can’t even believe.”
The Clinton campaign sent out the footage of the Trump interview to its email list.
In a statement released this morning, Hillary for America Director of Latino Outreach Lorella Praeli said “Judge Curiel and his family epitomize the American Dream.”
“His parents worked hard to give their U.S.-born children a better life. He and his brother became successful lawyers. His other brother served in Vietnam,” Praeli said. “The fact that Donald Trump doesn’t see Judge Curiel and his family as Americans makes him unfit to be president of this great nation, a nation of immigrants. In Trump’s version of America, this Latino family isn’t really American. But they are America.”