For months, Donald Trump has been attempting to discount as racist the federal judge overseeing two class-action lawsuits against Trump University. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who has otherwise been very supportive of Trump, called the presumptive Republican nominee’s most recent attacks on the judge “one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. I think it’s inexcusable.”
According to Trump, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana to Mexican parents, cannot be impartial, because the presumptive Republican nominee wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. He is “a member of a club or society very strongly pro-Mexican,” Trump told CBS News on Sunday. “I’m building a wall,” he told the Wall Street Journal last week. “It’s an inherent conflict of interest.” A Mexican drug cartel once targeted Curiel, then a prosecutor, for assassination.
Gingrich issued his (mild!) criticism speaking on Fox News on Sunday. “Trump has got to, I think, move to a new level,” he said. “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.”
Trump, who says he has “very strong, very thick skin,” responded in an interview with Fox & Friends on Monday morning. “As far as Newt is concerned, I saw Newt,” he said. “I was surprised at Newt. I thought it was inappropriate what he said.” But the former speaker isn’t the only Republican to (gently!) come out against Trump’s recent legal strategy. From the Los Angeles Times:
GOP allies quickly criticized Trump for charging that the judge’s Mexican ancestry poses a conflict of interest.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who begrudgingly endorsed Trump on Thursday, said Friday that he disapproved of Trump’s remarks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “I couldn’t disagree more with what he had to say.”
McConnell would not say whether he saw Trump’s attacks on Curiel as racist.
“He does have that thin skin, and you know, Judge Curiel is as American as I am, and certainly as American as Donald Trump is, and Trump’s continuing ethnic slurs and rants against everyone, including a distinguished federal judge, I think makes my point rather conclusively,” she told ABC.
Asked on Sunday whether he’d feel a Muslim judge would also be unable to treat him fairly, Trump, who has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, said, “Yeah, that would be possible, absolutely.”