Donald Trump came under fire from all sides — including from members of his own party — Sunday for his claim that he is being treated unfairly in court solely because of a federal judge’s Mexican heritage.
The billionaire businessman and presumptive Republican presidential nominee stood by his argument that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is of Mexican heritage, is biased against him. Judge Curiel is presiding over a class-action lawsuit brought against Trump University.
Mr. Trump argues that the judge is biased because he disagrees with the businessman’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but leading Republicans blasted that argument and said Mr. Trump is making a serious mistake that carries racist undertones.
“This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think it’s inexcusable. Trump has got to move to a new level. This is no longer the primaries.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Mr. Trump cannot assume that heritage disqualifies people from doing their jobs. Judge Curiel was born in Indiana, and his parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico.
“I couldn’t disagree more with a statement like that,” Mr. McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program Sunday. “This is a man who is born in Indiana. All of us came here from somewhere else. That’s an important part of what makes America work.”
Mr. Trump, however, stuck to his guns, saying the judge was prejudiced because of the candidate’s proposal to build a wall along the nation’s southern border to block illegal immigration from Mexico.
“But I say he’s got bias. I want to build a wall. I’m going to build a wall. I’m doing very well with the Latinos, with the Hispanics, with the Mexicans. I’m doing very well with them, in my opinion,” the billionaire told CBS News.
Mr. Trump even went one step further and said it’s “possible” Muslim judges could also be biased against him, in light of his proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. to deal with the threat of international terrorism.
“It’s possible, yes. That would be possible, absolutely,” Mr. Trump said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” when asked about the prospect of getting a fair hearing in front of a Muslim judge.
Mr. Trump also faces attacks from Hillary Clinton over recent violence at Trump rallies. Although anti-Trump protesters have been the ones instigating the unrest, the former first lady said Mr. Trump is responsible for creating a negative climate.
“I just want it to end. The police have a hard enough job making sure we’re able to gather and talk about the issues facing our country,” Mrs. Clinton told CNN before turning her attention to Mr. Trump. “And Trump has lowered the bar, and now is it a surprise that people who don’t like him are stepping over that low bar? I don’t think it is. He needs to condemn all violence by everyone.”
The anti-Trump violence, Mrs. Clinton suggested, is the natural backlash of Mr. Trump’s comments. The billionaire has, for example, said he would pay the legal fees of supporters who beat up anti-Trump demonstrators and that, in the good old days, hecklers would be taken out on stretchers.
He also once said of a protester, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
Mr. Trump blamed the latest round of violence on Democrats, specifically supporters of Sen. Bernard Sanders, Mrs. Clinton’s tenacious rival for the party’s nomination.
“The people that are causing the problem, they’re not my people. They’re people that are outside. They’re thugs and they’re agitators,” he said Sunday. “They’re bad people. I think they’re sent by the Democrats. They have the Bernie signs.”
Mr. Sanders also condemned the violence.
“I condemn it, absolutely,” he told CNN. “I want to make it clear that any person who is a Bernie Sanders supporter — please do not, in any way, shape or form, engage in violence. That is not what this campaign is about.”