Retreat: Trump Says Judge Criticism "Misconstrued," Vows No Further Comment

Posted: Jun 07, 2016 4:40 PM
Retreat: Trump Says Judge Criticism "Misconstrued," Vows No Further Comment

First, the triple-down. Then, the climb-down:

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...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...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.

A few thoughts, based on the three bolded passages above:

(1) Trump writes that he doesn't "feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial." But that's precisely what he argued in calling for Judge Curiel's ouster.  He stated clearly that Curiel's family heritage is in and of itself an "inherent conflict of interest."  Nothing has been "misconstrued" here.  He also repeatedly referred to the judge as "Spanish" and "Mexican."  Judge Curiel is a native-born US citizen.  An American.

(2) The presumptive GOP nominee did not originally cite "reported associations" (the central of which is untrue) as his rationale for demanding Curiel's recusal.  His was was an explicitly and exclusively ethnic argument.  That's just the ugly reality.  Also note the "questions were raised" passive voice.  Trump himself raised these objections repeatedly, often unprompted.

(3) Good luck not commenting on these matters any further.  It appears that he's referring both to his race-baiting and the Trump University fraud case here.  Trump could have gone the "I won't comment on an active case" route months ago, but instead chose to engage, cry "unfairness," and blast the judge in racial terms.  He created this problem for himself.  It's obvious that Democrats and the media are going to flog both issues all summer long, and into the fall.  Will Trump cede the playing field on both fronts?  Unlikely.  He's a self-described "counter-puncher," after all.  In this episode, his counter-punch against Judge Curiel hit a brick wall, finally necessitating the fact-challenged retreat excerpted above.  Trump's full statement is available here. I'll leave you with this factual statement: