Donald Trump thinks that a judge's "Mexican heritage" is keeping him from getting a fair shake in the fraud lawsuit over Trump University.
That was his contention in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He told the paper that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has an "absolute conflict" because he is “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers association.
“I’m building a wall," Trump said. "It's an inherent conflict of interest."
This is the second time he has broached the issue of Curiel's ethnic background while discussing the suit. At a rally in San Diego last week, Trump referred to Curiel as "a hater," then said that the judge "happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine.”
Curiel was born in Indiana and is of Mexican heritage. Apparently Trump has changed his mind on just how fine he thinks that is.
Why does Trump care that the judge is part of a Latino lawyers association? It boils down to this: The campaign is probably confusing two very different Latino organizations because they have similar Spanish names.
After Trump's first remarks on Curiel last week, a senior campaign aide went on TV to explain away the bigotry. Here is how that aide responded to a question about the relevance of Curiel's Mexican heritage:
"He even mentions on his judicial questionnaire that he was a La Raza Lawyers Association member. 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. It does not engage in presidential politics. Fusion reached out to the association's San Diego president, Luis Osuna, who confirmed that Curiel is a member and said that "neither the association nor the PAC have ever been involved in any way with the anti-Trump protests."
The Trump campaign appears to have confused the California-based lawyers group with the National Council of La Raza, a national advocacy organization that has openly opposed his candidacy.
Either that, or the Trump campaign just assumes that any organization with "Mexican heritage" is biased against them.