Trump Defends Attacks on |Trump University Judge

     (CN) – Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a lengthy response to the raging controversy over his race-based attacks on the judge overseeing lawsuits against his now-shuttered Trump University.
     “It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage,” Trump said in a 700-word statement issued by his campaign.
     “I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent,” the candidate said.
     Trump has repeatedly said U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel can’t be impartial in lawsuits against Trump University because his parents were born in Mexico and Trump wants to build a wall along the border.
     His comments have inspired a firestorm among establishment Republicans who have been trying, however warily, to embrace the prospect of Trump as their party’s standard bearer.
     During a Tuesday press conference in Washington in which he tried to tout a new federal poverty program, House Speaker Paul Ryan was repeatedly questioned about Trump and his comments about Judge Curiel.
     In response, Ryan said Trump’s statements were the “textbook definition of a racist comment,” adding that they were “indefensible.”
     Bu Ryan stood by his endorsement of Trump last week, saying the controversial Republican would be a better president than Democrat Hillary Clinton.
     Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk went further, saying he will not back Trump for president. Previously he had said he would support the party’s nominee.
     “I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers not building walls,” Kirk said in a statement. “That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.”
     While Trump decried the response to his comments, he also defendant his right to question whether Judge Curiel has a conflict of interest because of his Mexican heritage.
     “Due to what I believe are unfair and mistaken rulings in this case and the Judge’s reported associations with certain professional organizations, questions were raised regarding the Obama appointed Judge’s impartiality. It is a fair question. I hope it is not the case,” Trump said.
     “While this lawsuit should have been dismissed, it is now scheduled for trial in November. I do not intend to comment on this matter any further,” he said.

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