SAN DIEGO–In one of his most personal attacks against an apolitical figure since becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump delivered an extended tirade about the federal judge overseeing the civil litigation against his defunct education program.
Trump specifically singled out Federal District Judge Gonzalo Curiel at a campaign rally in San Diego, belittling the Judge’s Mexican ancestry (Judge Curiel was actually born in East Chicago, Indiana) then threatening to “come back” in his capacity as President to testify in the case. It's clear from the context of his speech that Trump meant this as a threat to the Judge’s authority, and implicitly, his right to oversee any litigation that might impugn the Trump business entity known as Trump University.
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd of several thousand booed. “He is not doing the right thing. And I figure, what the hell? Why not talk about it for two minutes?”
Trump spent considerably more than “two minutes” attacking the Judge, suggesting that he recuse himself for bias, because he was appointed by President Obama.
I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK? But we’ll come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I’m president and I come back to do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. OK. This is called life, folks.”
He attacked the plaintiffs in the case as well. They are suing Trump University , alleging they were defrauded. Trump vilified the Judge, setting forth his view of the case publically, thus rendering a broader swath of prospective jurors in the upcoming November trial subject to dismissal from the jury pool. Juries are routinely asked at the outset of any litigation whether they have any familiarity with the case. This is to eliminate bias, but it works both ways, Each party is permitted only a select number of strikes of potential jurors. What Trump accomplished by his little speech was to pollute the potential jury pool in the case, making it easier in some respects for the lawyers for Trump University to winnow out jurors that disfavor them, or select jurors that do favor them. Or move for transfer of the case to a more “favorable” venue.
It's a cynical ploy, but Trump is a cynical man. He saved the best for last:
Mr. Trump also told the audience, which had previously chanted the Republican standard-bearer’s signature “build that wall” mantra in reference to Mr. Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border, that Judge Curiel is “Mexican.”
Vanity Fair's "Big Hair On Campus." Will Trump "University" Scandle Tumble Trump?