In a monumental statement released by his campaign on Tuesday, Donald Trump vowed to stop talking about the civil case involving his now defunct Trump University and the judge whom he has repeatedly attacked in recent days over his heritage.
Trump previously lambasted US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel over his Mexican heritage, accusing the judge of being unable to preside impartially over the case involving Trump University.
He said that because Curiel, who was born in Indiana, is of Mexican descent and Trump is “building a wall” along the US-Mexico border, he cannot properly do his job.
In his statement, Trump took a step back from that line of attack.
But the presumptive Republican nominee did not retract his attacks that have led to many within the Republican Party publicly calling out Trump for his actions.
“It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage,” Trump wrote. “I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent.”
“The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges,” he said. “All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.”
Trump claimed that “the media” has reported a number of inaccuracies about the case involving his for-profit real-estate school – namely, that students had negative experiences with the program.
The real-estate magnate added that under normal circumstances the case “would be heard in a neutral environment,” but the fact that he’s the presumptive Republican nominee has caused him to be concerned about the likelihood of receiving a fair trial.
“Many companies – like Ford, General Motors, Nabisco, Carrier – are moving production to Mexico,” he wrote. “Drugs and illegal immigrants are also pouring across our border. This is bad for all Americans, regardless of their heritage.”
“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,” he continued. “It is a fair question. I hope it is not the case.”
Insisting that the lawsuit should have already been dismissed, Trump said he will no longer speak about it.
“I do not intend to comment on this matter any further,” he wrote. “With all of the thousands of people who have given the courses such high marks and accolades, we will win this case!”
- AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Although the statement contained no apology, it’s a far cry from a bombshell Bloomberg story published Monday, in which it was reported that Trump said “take that and throw it the hell out” when told about a directive from the campaign for surrogates to stop talking about Curiel.
It’s also a different tone than the presumptive nominee used during a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage,” Trump told Tapper. “I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall. I am going to do very well with the Hispanics, the Mexicans.”
“Jake, I’m building a wall,” Trump later said when confronted by Tapper about whether the line of attack was racist. “I’m building a wall. I’m trying to keep business out of Mexico. Mexico’s fine … He’s of Mexican heritage, and he’s very proud of it, as I am of where I come from.”
Trump took his argument a step further Sunday.
Asked by John Dickerson on CBS’ “Face the Nation” whether he believed a Muslim judge would also treat him unfairly because of his proposal to bar Muslim immigrants and tourists from entering the country, Trump said “it’s possible.”
- Alex Wong/Getty Images
He has faced increasing pressure from a number of Republicans to step back from the remarks. Late Tuesday afternoon, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk said he wouldn’t be supporting the party’s presumptive nominee.
“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers – not building walls,” Kirk, a Republican senator up for reelection in the fall, said in a statement. “That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.”
“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,” his statement continued.
Also on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a stern reprimand of Trump regarding the attacks on Curiel during a Capitol Hill press conference.
- Business Insider
The Kentucky Republican called on Trump to “start talking about the issues that the American people care about and to start doing it now.”
“In addition to that, it’s time to stop attacking various people you competed with or various minority groups in the country and get on message,” McConnell said on Tuesday. “He has the opportunity to do that.”
Other prominent Republicans – such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sens. Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, and Jeff Flake, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich – have spent the past five days disavowing Trump’s remarks.
Read Trump’s full statement below:
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. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.
Over the past few weeks, I have watched as the media has reported one inaccuracy after another concerning the ongoing litigation involving Trump University. There are several important facts the public should know and that the media has failed to report.
Throughout the litigation my attorneys have continually demonstrated that students who participated in Trump University were provided a substantive, valuable education based upon a curriculum developed by professors from Northwestern University, Columbia Business School, Stanford University and other respected institutions. And, the response from students was overwhelming. Over a five year period, more than 10,000 paying students filled out surveys giving the courses high marks and expressing their overwhelming satisfaction with Trump University’s programs. For example:
Former student Tarla Makaeff, the original plaintiff in the litigation, not only completed multiple surveys rating Trump University’s three-day seminar “excellent” in every category, but also praised Trump University’s mentorship program in a glowing 5 plus minute video testimonial. When asked “how could Trump University help to meet [her] goals”, she simply stated “[c]ontinue to offer great classes.” Once the plaintiffs’ lawyers realized how disastrous a witness she was, they asked to have her removed from the case. Over my lawyers’ objections, the judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion, but allowed the case to continue.
Art Cohen, a lead plaintiffs in the litigation, completed a survey in which he not only rated Trump University’s three-day seminar “excellent” in virtually every category, but went so far as to indicate that he would “attend another Trump University seminar” and even “recommend Trump University seminars to a friend.” When asked how Trump University could improve the seminar, Mr. Cohen’s only suggestion was to “[h]ave lunch sandwiches brought in” and make the lunch break 45 minutes. Former student Bob Giullo, who has been critical of Trump University in numerous interviews and negative advertisements from my political opponents, also expressed his satisfaction, rating Trump University’s programs “excellent” in every category. When asked how Trump University could improve its programs, Mr. Giullo simply asked that students be provided “more comfortable chairs.”
Indeed, these are just a few of literally thousands of positive surveys, all of which can be viewed online at www.98percentapproval.com.
For those students who decided that Trump University’s programs were not for them, the company had a generous refund policy, offering a full refund to any student who asked for their money back within 3 days of signing up for a program or by the end of the first day of any multi-day program, whichever came later.
Normally, legal issues in a civil case would be heard in a neutral environment. However, given my unique circumstances as nominee of the Republican Party and the core issues of my campaign that focus on illegal immigration, jobs and unfair trade, I have concerns as to my ability to receive a fair trial.
I am fighting hard to bring jobs back to the United States. Many companies – like Ford, General Motors, Nabisco, Carrier – are moving production to Mexico. Drugs and illegal immigrants are also pouring across our border. This is bad for all Americans, regardless of their heritage.
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.
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. With all of the thousands of people who have given the courses such high marks and accolades, we will win this case!