Donald Trump said today that not only should a judge of Mexican descent not be able to preside over his Trump University fraud case, but a Muslim judge hypothetically might have to recuse himself as well.
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.
Trump called the judge a “hater… who happens to be, we believe, Mexican.”
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 CBS’ Face the Nation this morning, Trump said he believes Curiel’s heritage “has a lot to do with” his “terrible rulings forever” in the fraud proceedings.
Curiel is a member of his state’s Latino bar association — La Raza Lawyers of California — which has no affiliation with the immigration activist National Council of La Raza.
“He’s member of a club or society very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine. But I say he’s got bias. I want to build a wall. I’m going to build a wall,” Trump said.
Host John Dickerson asked, “If it were a Muslim judge, would you also feel like they wouldn’t be able to treat you fairly because of that policy of yours?”
“It’s possible, yes. Yes. That would be possible, absolutely,” Trump replied.
“Isn’t there sort of a tradition, though, in America that we don’t judge people by who their parents were and where they came from?” Dickerson pressed.
“I’m not talking about tradition. I’m talking about common sense. OK? He’s somebody — he is proud of his heritage. And I think that’s great that he’s proud of his heritage,” Trump said. “He’s not treating me fair. He’s not treating me fairly.”
“…It has nothing to do with anything except common sense. We have to stop being so politically correct in this country. And we need a little more common sense, John. And I’m not blaming. I’m proud of my heritage. We’re all proud of our heritage. And I want to build a wall.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump supporter, told Fox News Sunday that going after Curiel “is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made and I think it’s inexcusable.”
“He has every right to criticize a judge and he has every right to say certain decisions aren’t right and his attorneys can file to move the venue from the judge,” Gingrich said. “But, first of all, this judge was born in Indiana. He is an American, period. When you come to America, you get to become an American. And Trump who has grandparents who came to the U.S. should understand this as much as anybody.”
“Second, to characterize, you know — if a liberal were to attack Justice Clarence Thomas on the grounds that he’s black, we would all go crazy. Every conservative would say it was wrong and it was racism. And Trump has got to, I think, move to a new level. This is no longer the primaries. He’s no longer an interesting contender. He is now the potential leader of the United States and he’s got to move his game up to the level of being a potential leader.”
Gingrich said he hopes what Trump did was “a mistake.”
“I hope it was sloppiness. He says on other occasions that he has many Mexican friends, etc., but that’s irrelevant,” he added. “This judge is not Mexican.”
On his proposal for a ban on Muslims coming into the country “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” Trump has not received support from members of Congress who are otherwise supporting the real-estate magnate.
Asked last week what he’d do if a President Trump came to him and asked the Senate to draft a Muslim ban, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he wouldn’t do it.
“I’d say no,” McConnell told CNN. “I think that’s a really bad idea. Most Muslim-Americans are patriotic.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told ABC this morning, “No, I would not support it. And I’ve already issued statements to that effect and what I understand is he has stepped away from those statements.”
Dickerson asked Trump about Senate leaders’ reticence on his idea.
“You are going to have to watch and are going to have to see. I have done a lot of things that nobody thought I could do,” Trump said. “I’m not backing down. We have to do something. We have a problem in this country. We have a radical Islamic terrorism problem in this country, and, by the way, throughout the world, throughout the world. It’s a problem. And it’s a temporary ban. I’m not talking permanent. It’s a temporary ban. We have to find out what is going on.”
This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. EST