Gonzalo Curiel is a federal judge in southern California and a former federal prosecutor. He is also, according to Donald Trump, “a hater of Donald Trump.”
The presumptive Republican nominee for president devoted almost a quarter of his hour-long rally in San Diego on Friday night to criticizing Curiel, who is currently presiding over a class-action lawsuit against the real-estate businessman for his role in Trump University.
During his disjointed remarks at the rally, Trump invoked Curiel’s ethnicity, said the judge should recuse himself from the trial, called for an investigation into him, described him as “negative” and a “hater,” insisted on a summary dismissal of the case, complained about being “railroaded by a legal system,” and asserted he would win the trial.
The Wall Street Journal has more:
“We’re in front of a very hostile judge,” Mr. Trump said. “The judge was appointed by Barack Obama, federal judge. Frankly, he should recuse himself because he’s given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative.”
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.”
“What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine,” Mr. Trump said.
Judge Curiel was born in Indiana.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs accuse Trump of defrauding them of thousands of dollars during their time as students of the online-learning classes, which shut down in 2010. In a separate ongoing case, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Trump in 2013 for illegal business practices and described the defunct “university” as an “elaborate bait-and-switch.”
Trump defended Trump University at the Friday rally by pointing to the “mostly unbelievable reviews” it received from participants. When the legal mess surrounding it became a campaign issue in March, former students told the New York Times they felt pressured by instructors to give positive reviews.
Curiel cannot respond to Trump’s remarks without violating the judicial code of ethics, an aide told the Journal. He set a November 28 trial date earlier this month, citing a desire to avoid a “media frenzy” around potential jurors before the election.