Trump Says Judge Comments Were ‘Misconstrued’ Amid Backlash From Within GOP
Donald Trump is no stranger to criticism, but in the last week, members of the GOP have lined up to denounce Trump’s remarks about the judge presiding over his Trump University case.
In hopes of cooling those criticisms, Trump issued a statement on June 7:
“It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent.”
Last week, Trump argued that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage creates “an inherent conflict of interest.”
While he apologized for the racial implications, he maintained that it was fair of him to question the judge’s motivations in the case:
“Due to what I believe are unfair and mistaken rulings in this case and the Judge’s reported associations with certain professional organizations, questions were raised regarding the Obama-appointed Judge’s impartiality. It is a fair question. I hope it is not the case,” Trump said.
Trump also promised to not talk about the issue any more:
“While this lawsuit should have been dismissed, it is now scheduled for trial in November. I do not intend to comment on this matter any further,” Trump added.
The comments come as more Republicans have spoken out publicly against the comments, some deciding to leave the party, and others denouncing the comments with varying levels of defiance.
The most powerful Republican leader, Speaker Paul Ryan had some words for the presumptive nominee:
“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” Ryan said at a press conference.
Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, the most endangered Senate Republican up for reelection this fall, has come out against Trump:
“While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.”
Lindsey Graham had perhaps the harshest words for the nominee, calling for other Republicans to oppose the statements:
“This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” Graham told The New York Times. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it,” he added. “There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”
Other detractors include Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, among others.