Judge Comments Have Some Republicans Rethinking Trump
As has been par for the course in his campaign, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump finds himself in hot water over comments many have construed as racist. Last week Trump made comments insinuating that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel overseeing a lawsuit against him was biased because of Curiel’s “Mexican” heritage.
In response to the avalanche of criticism, Trump maintained his argument while denying there were any racist undertones to his words, releasing a statement Tuesday that read in part, “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.”
The controversy started when Trump sat down for an interview with CNN, telling host Jake Tappper, “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings — rulings that people can’t even believe.”
Judge Curiel was born Indiana.
While Trump’s words getting him trouble is nothing new this election season, this particular story seems to have had a further-reaching affect than most. Numerous prominent Republicans have now spoken out against the comments and some have rescinded their support for the nominee.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called them the “textbook definition of a racist comment,” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called them “outrageous.” However neither man went as far as to say that they would no longer support Trump, with the former saying he was still a better option than Hilary Clinton while the latter urged the candidate to stop attacking minorities and “get on message.”
Other Republicans, however, have been harder on Trump.
Senator Mark Kirk (R – Ill.) had pledged support to Trump in March, however in the wake of the controversy he rescinded his endorsement. Kirk released a statement that said in part:
“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander in chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our president must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”
In addition to Kirk, other prominent Republicans including Tim Scott (R – S.C.), Jeff Flake (R – Ariz.), Bob Corker (R – Tenn.), and perennial Trump-adversary Lindsay Graham (R – S.C.) have spoken out against the comments as well. Graham has stated that this is a chance for those looking for an “off-ramp” to stop supporting Trump.
It remains to be seen if the controversy could lead to a challenge of Trump’s nomination at this summer’s party convention.