Donald Trump said Tuesday his comments that a Indiana-born federal judge might be biased against him because of his Mexican heritage had been misconstrued by the media.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee made the assertion in a new statement Tuesday afternoon as he scrambles to contain blowback from Republicans.
“It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent,” Trump said.
“I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.”
Trump added that he’s “watched as the media has reported one inaccuracy after another concerning the ongoing litigation involving Trump University.”
The statement doesn’t amount to a repudiation of his earlier comments, but it shows a tacit acknowledgment that he should tamp down his rhetoric.
Trump said in the statement that he will stop his talk of the judge’s impartiality.
“I do not intend to comment on this matter any further,” he said.
At 705 words, the statement was uncharacteristically long for the Trump campaign, which typically devotes only a few lines or paragraphs to its statements.
It also went on to criticize the former lead plaintiff on the Trump University case, Tarla Makaeff, asserting that she gave the program glowing reviews in its surveys. Trump said Makaeff was only removed from the case “once the plaintiffs’ lawyers realized how disasterous a witness she was.”
But Makaeff’s lawyers had asked for her to be removed citing health and stress issues associated with the new-found celebrity of the case.
The Trump University case alleges that the school defrauded its students and did not live up to its promises. Newly released documents from the trial last week show that salespeople pressured potential students into maxing out credit cards to cover the tuition, which topped out at $35,000.
Over the past few days, Trump has repeatedly accused Judge Gonzalo Curiel of bias and said that he cannot preside over a lawsuit against Trump University because “he’s a Mexican.”
Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican parents.
GOP lawmakers have publicly slammed Trump for those comments, as well as his assertion last weekend that a Muslim judge could presumably be biased against him too because of his call to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the U.S.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) mounted the highest-profile critique Tuesday, when he called the comments “textbook” racism.