The Republican presidential front runner slammed Judge Gonzalo Curiel in a speech last week as a “hater” and a “total disgrace” whose Mexican parentage poses an “absolute conflict” in the cases.
He doubled down on those comments in an interview published in The Wall Street Journal, saying Curiel — a US-born native of Indiana — might be “biased” by Trump’s controversial campaign vow to build an anti-immigrant wall on America’s southern border with Mexico.
“I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Trump told the daily, noting that Curiel also had belonged to an organization of Hispanic judges — another disqualifier in his eyes.
Reminded on CNN that Curiel is American, Trump doubled down: “he’s of Mexican heritage, and he’s very proud of it.”
The developer and reality television host has enthused supporters and enraged many others with his calls for building a wall on the US-Mexican border and alleging that Mexico sends its criminals to the United States.
“I’ve had terrible rulings (by Curiel), I’ve been treated very unfairly. I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge,” Trump said on CNN.
In addition to questioning Curiel’s impartiality, Trump said that if elected president, he would consider changing free speech laws to make it easier to sue journalists. Many see that as a plan to restrict basic US rights.
Newly unsealed court documents in the case against Trump’s “university” reveal allegations that it preyed on the uneducated and misled consumers with aggressive marketing that amounted to fraud.
– ‘Outrageous’ –
The revelations come as the 2016 presidential race shapes up as a contest between Trump and the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, who sharply criticized his remarks.
“I think it’s terrible. I think it’s outrageous,” Clinton said on MSNBC after a rally in California.
“Judge Curiel and his family epitomize the American dream,” Clinton Hispanic outreach staffer Lorella Praeli said. “His parents worked hard to give their US-born children a better life.”
Curiel and one of his brothers became successful lawyers, while another brother served in Vietnam.
“The fact that Donald Trump doesn’t see Judge Curiel and his family as Americans makes him unfit to be president of this great nation, a nation of immigrants,” said Praeli.
Trump’s statements are also highlighting the Republican Party’s difficulty uniting around the brash billionaire. A day after having endorsed Trump for president, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized him again on Friday.
Speaking on WISN radio in his home state of Wisconsin, Ryan called Trump’s attacks against Curiel “out of left field.”
“I think I’m going to do very well with the Hispanics because I’m going to bring back jobs and they are going to get jobs right now,” Trump told CNN.