Donald Trump wants you to understand that the federal judge who just ruled against him in a lawsuit over Trump University is “a hater.” He would also like you to know that the judge might be Mexican, which is “fine.”
That was the order in which the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party presented those two specific thoughts about Judge Gonzalo Curiel this weekend.
Curiel is overseeing a class-action lawsuit brought by former students who claim they were defrauded by Trump University, a series of business lectures marketed by the eponymous real estate mogul.
At a rally in San Diego on Friday, Trump began talking about Curiel by saying, “I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater.” He went on: “The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine.”
Curiel is a U.S. citizen of Mexican heritage who was born in Indiana.
Shortly after Trump’s comments, Curiel granted a request by The Washington Post to make public a series of internal documents that are part of the lawsuit. It’s unclear whether Curiel knew that Trump had, that same day, thrown shade at him for 12 minutes while making non sequitur references to his heritage.
On Monday, Trump bashed Curiel on Twitter, making sure to use the judge’s full name in each tweet.
When Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson appeared on CNN on Monday to defend Trump’s comments, things got weird quickly. Asked about Trump’s comments about Curiel’s heritage, Pierson said that Curiel was a member of the La Raza Lawyers Association.
“He even mentions on his judicial questionnaire that he was a La Raza Lawyers Association member,” Pierson told CNN host Alisyn Camerota. “This is an organization that has been out there organizing anti-Trump protesters with the Mexican flags—they are pushing it. The signs have been very apparent. And so Mr. Trump is just stating the obvious.”
The La Raza Lawyers Association is a nonprofit network that supports Chicano and Latino lawyers in California. Its involvement in electoral politics is primarily at the state and local level. Luis Osuna, the president of the lawyers association, told Fusion that neither it nor its political action committee has ever been involved in anti-Trump protests.
It is possible that Pierson mistook the La Raza Lawyers Association for the National Council of La Raza, a separate, unaffiliated organization that has publicly opposed Trump’s offensive comments about Mexican immigrants.
In that same interview, Pierson suggested, without providing evidence, that the La Raza Lawyers Association was engaged in criminal activity: “Well, it’s because of what we see outside of these rallies, these anti-Trump rallies, these criminal rallies, these criminal protesters out there defacing property and attacking police officers. They’re doing so under the guise of an anti-Trump protest, with their Mexican flags, and La Raza and this judge is connected to that.”