In a lengthy statement released on his website, Donald Trump defended his racist attacks on the federal district court judge overseeing the fraud case against Trump University. Trump has said the judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel, was not capable of fairly adjudicating the case because of his “Mexican heritage.” Paul Ryan today described Trump’s comments as “textbook racism.”
In the statement, Trump does not apologize or retract his statement. Rather, he says that it’s “unfortunate” that people have “misconstrued” his attacks. He also claimed he has “thousands” of friends and employees “of Mexican and Hispanic descent.” But Trump now says that he does “not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial.”
Trump’s words, however, were not misconstrued. He did say that the judge’s heritage made him incapable of being impartial, and he said it very explicitly.
In an interview on Sunday with Jake Tapper, he addressed the topic head on.
“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. He’s proud of his heritage,” Trump replied.
Pressed further by Tapper, Trump said, “We’re building a wall. He’s a Mexican.”
Indeed, later in the statement, Trump repeats his attacks on the judge’s impartiality, saying it was legitimate to question it since he’s a member of a professional association for Hispanic lawyers. Trump says that “questions were raised.” But here, as was the case previously, it is Trump raising the questions.
Trump’s own lawyers have praised the judge, who agreed to postpone the trial until late November so it would not interfere with Trump’s campaign.
Much of the statement is a familiar defense of Trump University, which Trump says received positive reviews from students, which some students say they were “coerced” into providing. Regardless, positive reviews are not a defense for fraud.
The course itself lured students with promises of easy riches, then encouraged them to buy real estate with credit cards. Former employees said the school “preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”