No sooner did presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump win the backing of congressional leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan than they took him to task for his remarks on the federal judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit.
Trump’s school is being sued in San Diego for fraud for failing to deliver on promises. On the Sunday morning talk shows, Trump accused U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of bias because of his Mexican heritage and Trump’s vow to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico. He said if any other judge had been handling the case, it already would have been dismissed.
“If he was giving me fair rulings, I wouldn’t be talking to you this way,” Trump said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think that’s [ethnicity] why he’s doing it. … He’s proud of his heritage. I’m building a wall. … He’s a Mexican.”
Following the same logic, Trump said he didn't think a Muslim judge could be fair to him because of his desire to temporarily block Muslims from entering the country.
Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana, to Mexican immigrant parents and was appointed to the bench in 2006 by former Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Curiel last week released documents in the Trump University case, indicating some of the school’s employees were encouraged to get students to max out their credit cards to take the seminars.
Stopping short of calling Trump’s remarks racist, McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” he disagreed with Trump.
“This is a man [Curiel] who was born in Indiana. All of us come from somewhere else. … That’s an important part of what makes America work,” the Senate majority leader said, adding he hopes Trump will change his attitude before he fully alienates the Hispanic vote.
Trump already was in hot water for his remarks on Mexican immigrants. In announcing his candidacy last summer, he called many of those crossing the border without proper documentation “rapists” and drug dealers.
“I think it's a big mistake for our party to write off Latino-Americans,” McConnell said.
Trump, however, said he has no problem with Latinos.
House Speaker Ryan, who tepidly endorsed Trump in an op-ed last week published in the Janesville Gazette, told WISN, Milwaukee, Friday he doesn’t understand Trump’s reasoning on attacking the judge.
“Look, the comment about the judge the other day just was out of left field for my mind. ... I completely disagree with the thinking behind that. And so, he clearly says and does things I don’t agree with, and I’ve had to speak up on time to time when that has occurred, and I’ll continue to do that if it’s necessary. I hope it’s not,” Ryan said.