Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a stern reprimand of Donald Trump during a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday.
The Kentucky Republican called on Trump to “start talking about the issues that the American people care about and to start doing it now.”
McConnell spoke as condemnation from all sides of the Republican Party continued raining in on Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, for alleging that US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel cannot be impartial in a case that he’s presiding over regarding the Manhattan billionaire’s now defunct Trump University.
Trump has said that because Curiel is of Mexican heritage and Trump is “building a wall” along the US-Mexico border, Curiel is biased against him.
The judge was born in Indiana.
“Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage,” Trump said during a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall. I am going to do very well with the Hispanics, the Mexicans.”
Trump took his argument a step further on Sunday. Asked by John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation” about 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 that “it’s possible.”
Many 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.
“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.”
In a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” McConnell said that he “couldn’t disagree more” with what Trump has said about Curiel.
“This is a man who was born in Indiana,” McConnell said. “All of us came here from somewhere else.”
McConnell, for his part, refused to call the line of attack racist when pressed by host Chuck Todd.
In a heated Monday speech on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid tore into McConnell for being a “trumpet.”
After calling the Republican “capitulation” to Trump complete, he chastised McConnell for leading a supposedly “pro-Trump propaganda tour” the week before.
“Sen. McConnell spent last week as Donald Trump’s head cheerleader – a trumpet,” Reid said. “The Republican leader left Washington 10 days ago without doing his job on Zika so he could stump for Trump.”
“And in the last 10 days, it has become clear that Sen. McConnell will go to any length to support Donald Trump,” he continued.
“Donald Trump opined a federal judge should be disqualified from presiding on his case because of his Mexican heritage,” the Nevada senator said. “He went even further in saying he would feel the same way if the judge were Muslim.”
“And how did the Republican leader respond?” Reid continued. “Sen. McConnell repeatedly refused to say Donald Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel’s ethnicity are racist. This is precisely the type of failure that gave rise to Donald Trump in the first place.”
- Business Insider
During a recent interview with Business Insider to promote his memoir, McConnell called on Trump to stop “score settling” with fellow Republicans.
“Well, it’s pretty clear he’s going to be the nominee, and I would think the better path to take would be to unify the party rather than settling grudges or old scores,” he said. “I hope Trump will go in a different direction.”
“He’s not a dumb guy, he’s a smart guy,” McConnell continued. “He’s earned the nomination. Now’s the time to put the party together, and I would put aside all the score settling with people who competed with him for the nomination or said things.”
He also called on the bombastic billionaire to release his tax returns, something Trump has insisted he will not do until an IRS audit is complete. That audit, Trump said, may or may not be completed ahead of the November election.
“For the last 30 or 40 years, every candidate for president has released their tax returns, and I think Donald Trump should as well,” McConnell said.