It’s a remarkable political coincidence that the judge randomly selected to hear the case in Los Angeles of a man deported to Mexico despite his lawyers’ claims he was granted protected status during the Obama administration is the same judge Donald Trump once said could not be partial because he is “Mexican.”
At the time, the judge, Gonzalo Curiel, was hearing another case involving Trump – a class action lawsuit concerning students who said they were defrauded by Trump University. The Trump University case was ultimately settled after Trump won the White House.
But it is totally worth going back to examine Jake Tapper’s interview June interview with then-candidate Trump, which got in-depth about Trump’s comments about the judge. Trump argued at the time that the judge could not be impartial because Trump wanted to build a wall with Mexico and the judge had Mexican heritage. That video is above and the transcript is below:
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to ask you about the comments you made about the judge in the Trump University case. You said you thought it was a conflict of interest that he was the judge because he’s of Mexican heritage, even though he’s from Indiana.
DONALD TRUMP: OK, fine.
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton said that that is a racist attack on a federal judge.
TRUMP: No, she’s so wonderful, you know? I mean, here’s a woman that should be put in jail for what she did with her emails and she’s commenting on this.
TRUMP: Let me just say, first off – I have a case where thousands of people have taken this course, and thousands and thousands of people have said great reviews, great reviews. Fortunately, just about everybody that took the case has signed a review, an evaluation, they call it. And it’s gotten tremendous marks, thousands. I don’t mean like two people. I mean, thousands.
TRUMP: OK. I have a situation where the woman that brought the case brought the case. She’s the plaintiff. She was deposed. She was found to be a disaster for them as a witness because she gave an evaluation that was like the best evaluation you’ve ever heard – wait just one second.
TRUMP: And she did a tape like from your camera saying that this school was fantastic, it was fantastic. They went to the judge and they said, your honor, we don’t want her anymore to be our plaintiff. So, we said, let’s dismiss the case. That’s OK. Let’s dismiss the case.
He said, no, I won’t dismiss the case and she doesn’t have to be the plaintiff.
TAPPER: What does this have to do with his heritage?
TRUMP: I’ll tell you what it has to do. I’ve had ruling after ruling after ruling that’s been bad rulings, OK? I’ve been treated very unfairly. Before him, we had another judge. If that judge was still there, this case would have been over two years ago.
Let me just tell you, I’ve had horrible rulings, I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall. I am going to do very well with the Hispanics, the Mexicans –
TAPPER: So, no Mexican judge could ever be involved in a case that involves you?
TRUMP: Well, he’s a member of a society, where – you know, very pro-Mexico, and that’s fine. It’s all fine, but –
TAPPER: Except that you’re calling into question his heritage.
TRUMP: I think he should recuse himself.
TAPPER: Because he’s Latino?
TRUMP: Then, you also say, does he know the lawyer on the other side? I mean, does he know the lawyer? You know, a lot of people say –
TAPPER: But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about –
TRUMP: That’s another problem.
TAPPER: You’re invoking his race, talking about whether or not he can do his job.
TRUMP: Jake, I’m building a wall. OK? I’m building a wall. I’m trying to keep business out of Mexico. Mexico’s fine.
TAPPER: But he’s an American.
TRUMP: He’s of Mexican heritage and he’s very proud of it, as I am where I come from, my parents.
TAPPER: But he’s an American. You keep talking about it’s a conflict of interest because of Mexico.
TRUMP: Jake, are you ready? I have a case that should have already been dismissed. I have thousands of people saying Trump University is fantastic, OK? I have a case that should have been dismissed. A judge that never, ever gives – now, we lose the plaintiff. He lets the plaintiff of the case out.
So, why isn’t he calling the case? So, we thought we won the case.
TAPPER: So, you disagree with his rulings. I totally understand that.
TRUMP: I’ve had lawyers come up to me a say, you are being treated so unfairly. It’s unbelievable. You know the plaintiffs in the case have all said wonderful things about the school and they’re suing. You know why they’re suing? Because they want to get their money back.
TAPPER: I don’t want to really litigate the case of Trump University.
TRUMP: You have to, because if he was giving me fair rulings, I wouldn’t say that.
TAPPER: My question is –
TRUMP: Jake, if you were giving me fair rulings, I wouldn’t be talking to you this way. He’s given me horrible rulings.
TAPPER: I don’t care if you criticize him, that’s fine. You can criticize every decision. What I’m saying, if you invoke his race as a reason why he can’t do his job.
TRUMP: I think that’s why he’s doing it. I think that’s why he’s doing it.
TAPPER: When Hillary Clinton says it’s a racist attack –
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is a stiff. If Hillary Clinton becomes president –
TAPPER: Paul Ryan today – Paul Ryan today said he didn’t care for the way that you are attacking this judge.
TRUMP: Look, I’m just telling you, Paul Ryan doesn’t know the case. Here’s the story –
TAPPER: Isn’t it the –
TRUMP: I should have won this case on summary judgment. This is not a – this is a case I should have won on summary judgment. You know, the law firm paid Hillary Clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars to make speeches. You know the law firm –
TAPPER: I do. And we reported – we reported it on my show.
TRUMP: OK. I’m glad. You’re the only one.
TRUMP: Wait a minute. A law firm paid hundreds and thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton for speeches.
TAPPER: Before either of you –
TRUMP: She wasn’t working. Everyone fell asleep during a speech, OK?
TAPPER: Before either of you were running for president, they did.
But here’s the final fundamental question –
TRUMP: Do you know they’ve contributed tremendous amounts of money to her campaign?
TRUMP: Do you know they contributed a lot of money to Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general?
TAPPER: Here’s my question –
TRUMP: No, no, do you know that?
TAPPER: I did not know that.
TRUMP: Did you know they went to every attorney general practically in the country that they could and did you know this case was turned down by almost every attorney general from Texas to Florida and to many other states?
TAPPER: Is it not – when Hillary Clinton says this is a racist attack, and you reject that – if you’re saying he can’t do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?
TRUMP: No. I don’t think so at all.
TRUMP: No. He’s proud of his heritage. I respect him for that.
TAPPER: But you’re saying you can’t do his job because of that.
TRUMP: Look, he’s proud of his heritage, OK? I’m building a wall.
Now, I think I’m going to do very well with Hispanics because they are going to get jobs right now. They are going to get jobs. I think I’m going to do very well with Hispanics.
We are building a wall. He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.
The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings, rulings that people can’t even believe. This case should have ended years ago in summary judgment. The best lawyers I have spoken to so many lawyers, they said, this is not a case. This is a case that should have ended.
TAPPER: I –
TRUMP: This judge is giving us unfair rulings. Now, I say why? Well, I’m building a wall, OK? And it’s a wall between Mexico. Not another country.
TAPPER: But he’s not from Mexico. He’s from Indiana.
TRUMP: He’s of Mexican heritage and he’s very proud of it.