Newt: Trump Race-Baiting Hispanic Judge 'Unacceptable' and 'Inexcusable'

Posted: Jun 06, 2016 10:33 AM

On Friday, I wrote about Donald Trump's explicit race-baiting of a federal judge presiding over the class action fraud case being brought against Trump University by former students. A number of staunch Trump supporters have also spoken out against the presumptive GOP nominee's decision to go down that ugly path, including Bill Bennett ("out of line...big mistake"), and CNN contributor/unwavering Trump surrogate Kayleigh McEnany ("Not relevant...he shouldn't have made that comment"). Newt Gingrich, a prominent Trump cheerleader who is reportedly on the billionaire's shortlist for VP, teed-off over the weekend in no uncertain terms:

That quote is from a Washington Post article. He echoed his disapproval on Fox News Sunday:

“It was one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. Inexcusable,” the former GOP House speaker, who has become one of Trump’s closest advisers, told “Fox News Sunday.” Trump has argued that American-born District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose parents are from Mexico, is biased against him, considering Trump’s vow to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out Mexicans...“That judge is not a Mexican. He’s an American,” he said.

As these issues came to a boil, I debated a Trump follower who was eager defend the indefensible on Megyn Kelly's show Friday evening.  Here's the video, via Right Sightings, followed by a few points:

To his credit, the Trump defender declined to repeat the debunked "this judge is a member of La Raza" talking point, but note how he offers zero evidence of verifiable anti-Trump bias when pressed, instead suggesting that his candidate should seek out such evidence to affirm his irresponsible accusations. First of all, that's not how this works. You don't spew half-cocked demands that a judge be tossed off of a case because of "bias," then set about trying to justify that accusation. Put up or shut up. Secondly, and most importantly, Trump's complaint against Judge Curiel doesn't rest on evidence of hostile conduct, statements, or political views. He's saying straight-up that Curiel's ethnic background unto itself constitutes an "inherent conflict of interest." This is practically the very definition of race-baiting, upon which Trump is shamefully doubling down.

A number of Trump fans have directed my attention to this piece, in which former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez argues that Trump is right to question whether Curiel's judgment might be slanted. Two problems, though: First, Gonzalez has been sharply and publicly critical of Trump's methods attacking Curiel. Second, Trump isn't just asking questions. He's explicitly arguing that this Indiana-born (not "Mexican," as Trump has frequently called him) judge's racial heritage alone renders him unfit to oversee the case. This is appalling racial demagoguery that flies in the face of legal precedent, America's pluralistic values, and common decency.  It's transparent bullying, designed to delegitimize a series rulings Trump doesn't like.  Remember when conservatives roundly blasted President Obama for (falsely) condemning the Supreme Court in his State of the Union Address? Meanwhile, a curiosity: Trump often boasts that "The Hispanics" love him.  Let's play along.  If that's the case, which the celebrity mogul insists it is, wouldn't the judge's Hispanic bloodline indicate pro-Trump leanings, if anything? I'd love to see Trump reconcile this race-based bragging with his "rationale" behind the race-based attacks on Curiel. I'll leave you with Hillary's new web ad, which Cortney wrote about earlier: