GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump is currently in the middle of a class action lawsuit over Trump University, a non-accredited seminar service that allegedly defrauded countless of people. But rather than shy away from talking about it, Trump is addressing the lawsuit head on, and he’s using the presiding judge’s Latino heritage to discredit him in the process.
Meet Judge Gonzalo Curiel, Donald Trump’s latest target.
Curiel is an Obama-appointed judge to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — one of the highest courts in the country. Before serving as a judge, Curiel made a name for himself by prosecuting Tijuana’s Arellano Felix Cartel. You know, the same people Donald Trump said were bringing drugs and crime into the United States. Curiel’s job was to fight them, which resulted in the cartel trying to assassinate him.
Curiel is also the judge in charge of Art Cohen v. Donald J. Trump, just one of three lawsuits associated with the defunct Trump University.
On Friday, while campaigning in San Diego, Trump told a rally that Curiel was a “hater.” He also said Curiel was a “Mexican.”
“The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine,” Trump told his audience. “You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when we give them all these jobs.”
Curiel was born in Indiana — which has been part of the United States since 1816 — to Mexican immigrant parents. It’s also worth pointing out that East Chicago, the Northeastern Indiana city where Curiel was born, is more than 1,400 miles from the Mexican border.
Despite being wrong about Curiel being Mexican, a Trump spokesperson doubled down on the comment during a CNN interview.
“I think what’s really interesting about this particular judge — as Mr. Trump refers to him as a ‘Trump hater’ — is he even mentions on his judicial questionnaire that he was a La Raza Lawyers Association member,” Katrina Pierson told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “This is an organization that has been out there organizing these anti-Trump protesters with the Mexican flags. They are pushing it. The signs have been very apparent. And so Mr. Trump is just stating the obvious.”
Pierson’s response didn’t answer the original question: why bring up Judge Curiel’s ethnicity in the first place? To Camerota’s credit, she didn’t let the Trump spokesperson of the hook, forcing Pierson to dig herself into an even bigger hole.
“Well, it’s because of what we see outside of these rallies, these anti-Trump rallies, these criminal rallies, these criminal protesters out there defacing property and attacking police officers. They’re doing so under the guise of an anti-Trump protest, with their Mexican flags, and La Raza and this judge is connected to that,” Pierson said.
You’re not reading that wrong, a Trump spokesperson, quoting Donald Trump, just said that a Mexican-American federal judge is connected to criminals without providing anything remotely resembling a fact to back up this claim. That’d be like us saying that Donald Trump has ties to white supremacists. We are of course not saying that Donald Trump himself is a white supremacist; we’re just pointing out that it’s a verifiable fact that his campaign has ties to white supremacists.