Jeb Bush slammed Donald Trump on Tuesday after the presumptive Republican nominee released a monumental statement discussing his attacks against a federal judge over his Mexican heritage.
“Donald Trump should retract his comments, not defend them,” the one-time presidential hopeful tweeted. “There is no place for racism in the GOP, or this country.”
Trump vowed to stop talking about the civil case involving his now defunct Trump University and US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in the Tuesday statement released by his campaign.
The Manhattan billionaire has lambasted 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.”
- REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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.”
In addition to Bush, Trump 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.
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.
Bush engaged in a back-and-forth with Trump early on in the 2016 campaign, and Trump soon labeled him as “low-energy.” The battle between the two became exceptionally heated leading up to Bush’s departure from the race in February following his loss in the South Carolina primary.