Trump aide defends bringing up San Diego judge’s ‘Mexican’ heritage
SAN DIEGO – A spokeswoman for Donald Trump on Monday continued a line of criticism launched by Trump about a San Diego judge who is overseeing a fraud case against him.
Katrina Pierson also suggested that the judge’s Hispanic heritage and membership in a Latino lawyers association would affect his ability to judge the case.
The criticism comes days after Trump himself said at a rally that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel “happens to be, we believe, Mexican,” criticizing him for scheduling a trial for the suit against Trump University in November.
Appearing on CNN’s “New Day,” spokeswoman Pierson criticized Curiel for being a member of the La Raza Lawyer’s Association, which is a leading Latino lawyers group in California. Curiel is a member of the organization’s San Diego chapter.
“I think what’s really interesting about this particular judge — as Mr. Trump refers to him as a ‘Trump hater’ — is he even mentions on his judicial questionnaire that he was a La Raza Lawyers Association member,” Pierson said, apparently referring to the questionnaire Curiel filled out when his confirmation was being considered by the Senate. “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.”
CNN has reached out to the La Raza Lawyers Association’s national office and the San Diego chapter, but calls were not immediately returned.
“New Day” host Alisyn Camerota replied that Curiel, contrary to Trump’s assertion, is U.S.-born and pushed back on making an issue of his ethnicity. “Why’s (Trump) saying he’s Mexican? What’s the point?”
After arguing that Trump had only said that “we believe” Curiel is Mexican, Pierson continued to try to link the judge to anti-Trump protesters.
“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,” Pierson said.
Efforts to reach Curiel on Monday were not immediately successful.
Trump ripped Curiel on Friday after the judge ruled parts of internal documents, including “playbooks” regarding running the enterprise, should be released as part of a lawsuit against Trump University, which operated from 2005 to 2010.
The playbooks, which include ones from 2009 and 2010, detail how the venture worked, how Trump University events were run and how to sell programs to customers. Curiel wrote that there is public interest in the case as Trump has become “the front-runner in the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue.”
Trump on Friday argued there was no need to schedule a trial for the Trump University fraud suit, while noting Curiel’s heritage.
“The trial is going to take place sometime in November. There should be no trial. This should have been dismissed on summary judgment easily, everybody says it. But I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” Trump said.
Trump added, “The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine.”