It appears there’s no line that Donald Trump won’t cross. No low to which he won’t stoop.
Not even the U.S. judicial branch is safe from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s self-serving, racist utterances.
Trump’s unwarranted verbal assault on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel should alarm every American. Every Republican supporting Trump’s election should renounce him, including Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, the Republican running against Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, in California’s 7th Congressional District. Jones says he still intends to vote for Trump.
One thing the backlash can’t do, however, is whitewash Trump’s comments.
Indeed, as criticism mounted Tuesday from top Republicans, Trump repeated remarks he made about Curiel, even as he said they had been “misconstrued.” It was typical Trump: Make an outrageous statement, defend it, then blame others when the reaction turns tense.
Trump’s statement was clear, if twisted. No one misconstrued it. In Trump’s view, Curiel is unfit to preside over two lawsuits against the defunct Trump University because he’s “a Mexican” (actually, he’s an American) and Trump wants to build a wall along the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration. That, along with the fact he was nominated to the federal bench by President Barack Obama, represents a conflict of interest to Trump.
“He’s a member of a society where, you know, very pro-Mexico,” Trump told CNN. “And that’s fine. But I think he should recuse himself.”
If that weren’t outrageous enough, Trump expanded his skewed assessment to the rest of the judiciary, saying he probably wouldn’t get a fair trial from a Muslim judge because he wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
By linking someone’s identity to his or her ability to be fair, Trump is calling into question the tradition that judges are more than the sum of their racial or ethnic parts, and undermines one of the pillars of our republic, with no end game. Are women next? What about judges who are Jewish, gay or black?
Shortly after Trump’s pronouncement, House Speaker Paul Ryan lamely called the comment “out of left field.” As the reaction grew on Tuesday, Ryan called it racist, but held fast to his endorsement: “At the end of the day this is about ideas. This is about moving our agenda forward.”
Voters should wonder what that agenda might be. Republicans say one of the main reasons to support Trump is that the next president could appoint the next Supreme Court justice. Based on what Trump has stated, the sons and daughters of immigrants and Muslims need not apply if the next president is Trump.
Trump’s argument rings even more untrue because it’s about Curiel, a man who, before being appointed to the bench by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, risked his life to take down Mexican drug cartels as prosecutor.
No, the despicable truth is that Trump is attacking Curiel and insulting the judiciary as a distraction. Trump ramped up his rhetoric after Curiel unsealed documents in the Trump University case, exposing “playbooks” used by employees to trick vulnerable students into paying tens of thousands of dollars for classes.
Trump wants to protect his bank account and his reputation. Don’t be fooled. Any candidate who is willing to sacrifice the values of this country to protect his money doesn’t deserve to be president.