Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Billings, Mont., last week. Trump says comments on judge 'misconstrued' as an attack against people of Mexican heritage. AP file/Brennan Linsley
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FILE - In this May 26, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Billings, Mont., Thursday, May 26, 2016. Trump says comments on judge 'misconstrued' as an attack against people of Mexican heritage. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Under fire for comments on judge, Donald Trump declares himself ‘misconstrued’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Billings, Mont., last week. Trump says comments on judge 'misconstrued' as an attack against people of Mexican heritage. AP file/Brennan Linsley
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FILE - In this May 26, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Billings, Mont., Thursday, May 26, 2016. Trump says comments on judge 'misconstrued' as an attack against people of Mexican heritage. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Billings, Mont., last week. Trump says comments on judge 'misconstrued' as an attack against people of Mexican heritage. AP file/Brennan Linsley

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Billings, Mont., last week. Trump says comments on judge ‘misconstrued’ as an attack against people of Mexican heritage. AP file/Brennan Linsley

The latest from the Associated Press:

Republican Donald Trump says that his attacks on the judge handling the Trump University case have been “misconstrued.”

Trump said in a lengthy statement Tuesday afternoon that “it is unfortunate” his comments “have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage.”

Trump has complained repeatedly that federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel is biased against him and cited his Mexican heritage. Curiel was born in the U.S.

His comments have sparked a backlash among members of the Republican Party, House Speaker Paul Ryan saying Tuesday that they are “the textbook definition of racist comments.”

Trump said in his statement, “I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial,” but said that he feels justified to question whether he is receiving a fair trial based on the ruling.

The key line in Trump’s statement, which we provide below: “I do not intend to comment on this matter any further.”

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who prominently donned a red Trump baseball cap and endorsed Trump at last weekend’s state GOP convention, has called on Trump to apologize. This, too, might have more to do with Trump’s recasting of his comments. From the Associated Press:

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois says Donald Trump’s comments about a U.S. federal judge of Mexican heritage are un-American and he cannot support the presumptive presidential nominee.

This is a reversal for Kirk, one of the more endangered GOP incumbents, who had said recently he would support Trump.

In a statement Tuesday, Kirk said that 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.”

Kirk said he was hoping the rhetoric would tone down. Instead, Trump’s comments along 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” regardless of the impact on his own candidacy.

The senator added that he has concluded Trump is not fit to be commander-in-chief and oversee thousands of nuclear weapons.

The lenthy Trump press release contains plenty of details on Trump U., but does little to address the presumptive nominee’s repeated comments about the Indiana-born Judge Curiel. A reminder, from last week’s Wall Street Journal:

Donald Trump on Thursday escalated his attacks on the federal judge presiding over civil fraud lawsuits against Trump University, amid criticism from legal observers who say the presumptive GOP presidential  nominee’s comments are an unusual affront on an independent judiciary.

In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.

Here’s the Trump press release in its entirety:

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.

Over the past few weeks, I have watched as the media has reported one inaccuracy after another concerning the ongoing litigation involving Trump University. There are several important facts the public should know and that the media has failed to report.

Throughout the litigation my attorneys have continually demonstrated that students who participated in Trump University were provided a substantive, valuable education based upon a curriculum developed by professors from Northwestern University, Columbia Business School, Stanford University and other respected institutions. And, the response from students was overwhelming. Over a five year period, more than 10,000 paying students filled out surveys giving the courses high marks and expressing their overwhelming satisfaction with Trump University’s programs. For example:

  • Former student Tarla Makaeff, the original plaintiff in the litigation, not only completed multiple surveys rating Trump University’s three-day seminar “excellent” in every category, but also praised Trump University’s mentorship program in a glowing 5 plus minute video testimonial. When asked “how could Trump University help to meet [her] goals”, she simply stated “[c]ontinue to offer great classes.” Once the plaintiffs’ lawyers realized how disastrous a witness she was, they asked to have her removed from the case. Over my lawyers’ objections, the judge granted the plaintiffs’ motion, but allowed the case to continue.
  • Art Cohen, a lead plaintiffs in the litigation, completed a survey in which he not only rated Trump University’s three-day seminar “excellent” in virtually every category, but went so far as to indicate that he would “attend another Trump University seminar” and even “recommend Trump University seminars to a friend.” When asked how Trump University could improve the seminar, Mr. Cohen’s only suggestion was to “[h]ave lunch sandwiches brought in” and make the lunch break 45 minutes.
  • Former student Bob Giullo, who has been critical of Trump University in numerous interviews and negative advertisements from my political opponents, also expressed his satisfaction, rating Trump University’s programs “excellent” in every category. When asked how Trump University could improve its programs, Mr. Giullo simply asked that students be provided “more comfortable chairs.”

Indeed, these are just a few of literally thousands of positive surveys, all of which can be viewed online at http://www.98percentapproval.com.

For those students who decided that Trump University’s programs were not for them, the company had a generous refund policy, offering a full refund to any student who asked for their money back within 3 days of signing up for a program or by the end of the first day of any multi-day program, whichever came later.

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.

I am fighting hard to bring jobs back to the United States. Many companies – like Ford, General Motors, Nabisco, Carrier – are moving production to Mexico. 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. 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. With all of the thousands of people who have given the courses such high marks and accolades, we will win this case!

Donald J. Trump


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