With controversy still swirling over GOP front-runner Donald Tump’s criticism of the “Mexican” judge presiding over his Trump University lawsuit, at least one prominent Mexican-American is giving Trump a pass for his rhetoric.
Former George W. Bush White House Counsel and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is bucking the Beltway wisdom that Donald Trump is gauche for insisting Judge Gonzalo Curiel might be biased against him as he defends his university in the class action lawsuit brought against him.
Gonzales, who is also of Mexican-American descent, just wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post titled “Trump Has a Right to Ask if Judge Gonzalo Curiel is Fair.” Clearly Gonzales thinks Trump may have a point.
But there may be other factors to consider in determining whether Trump’s concerns about getting an impartial trial are reasonable. Curiel is, reportedly, a member of a group called La Raza Lawyers of San Diego. Trump’s aides, meanwhile, have indicated that they believe Curiel is a member of the National Council of La Raza, a vocal advocacy organization that has vigorously condemned Trump and his views on immigration. The two groups are unaffiliated, and Curiel is not a member of NCLR. But Trump may be concerned that the lawyers’ association or its members represent or support the other advocacy organization. Coupled with that question is the fact that in 2014, when he certified the class-action lawsuit against Trump, Curiel appointed the Robbins Geller law firm to represent plaintiffs. Robbins Geller has paid $675,000 in speaking fees since 2009 to Trump’s likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, and to her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Curiel appointed the firm in the case before Trump entered the presidential race, but again, it might not be unreasonable for a defendant in Trump’s position to wonder who Curiel favors in the presidential election. These circumstances, while not necessarily conclusive, at least raise a legitimate question to be considered. Regardless of the way Trump has gone about raising his concerns over whether he’s getting a fair trial, none of us should dismiss those concerns out of hand without carefully examining how a defendant in his position might perceive them — and we certainly should not dismiss them for partisan political reasons.
Gonzales went on to insist voters will judge him on his suitability to become president, but added, “If Trump is acting from a sincere motivation to protect his constitutional right to a fair trial, his willingness to exercise his rights as an American citizen and raising the issue even in the face of severe criticism is surely also something for voters to consider.”
The presumptive GOP nominee took to Twitter to thank Gonzales for his editorial.
Thank you Attorney General Gonzales, so many people feel this way. https://t.co/fMR8YYiiMz
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2016
But Trump is still taking heavy criticism even from those who have otherwise expressed a lot of support for him. Over the weekend, for instance, Newt Gingrich sharply criticized Trump for focusing on Judge Curiel’s heritage calling it “inexcusable.”
The stark criticism is shocking to some because many thought Newt was angling to become Trump’s vice presidential running mate.
For his part, Trump came out swinging back at Newt with a Monday phone-in interview on “Fox & Friends.”
During his segment, Trump told the Fox hosts that he was “surprised” by Newt’s attack and thought the former Speaker of the House’s comments were “inappropriate.”
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