Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump ordered surrogates to double down on criticisms of the press and US district judge Gonzalo Curiel—a Mexican-American overseeing cases against Trump University—during a conference call on Monday (June 6).
“The people asking the questions—those are the racists,” he told a collection of supporters on the line, including former Arizona governor Jan Brewer, former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, and Florida attorney general Pam Bondi. “I would go at ’em.”
Trump has come under fire of late for comments about Judge Curiel—declaring the judge unfit to oversee suits against Trump University because of his Mexican heritage and Trump’s history of racist commentary toward the Mexican American community. (An unusual admission for the Trump campaign to make, post-#TacoSaladGate.)
On the call, he described Curiel as “a member of La Raza.” Curiel is affiliated with La Raza Lawyers of California, a Latino bar association independent of the National Council of La Raza, to which Trump refers. The latter is the United States’s largest Latino advocacy organization, which promotes progressive immigration reform, but is frequently misrepresented as a Mexican- or Latino-supremacist organization. It was in fact founded with funding from the Ford Foundation.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton described the comments as “not just another outlandish, insulting comment from Donald Trump,” but “something much more dangerous,” going on to declare the candidate wholly unqualified for office. As The Atlantic’s James Fallows notes, GOP officials have yet to respond on Trump’s behalf:
The conference call also highlighted some apparent fissures within Trump’s campaign infrastructure. According to Bloomberg News, when Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to bring up a memo emailed from his own campaign asking surrogates to abstain from talking about the Trump University lawsuit, the candidate angrily demanded to know who sent it.
“Take that order and throw it the hell out,” Trump said. “Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks? … That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”
“You all better get on the page,” Brewer told Trump.