Donald Trump was repeatedly pressed on Friday about why he continues to bring up a judge’s Mexican heritage while saying the judge should recuse himself.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Trump again and again if that was improper or could be construed as racist. The mogul initially avoided the question, but ultimately doubled down on his attack.
“If you are saying he can’t do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?” Tapper asked towards the end of the exchange, which will air in full Sunday.
“No, I don’t think so at all,” Trump replied.
U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a federal district judge in the Southern District of California, is overseeing a case against the now-defunct Trump University.
Trump has repeatedly complained about Curiel’s supposed bias while invoking the judge’s heritage, which has unsettled a number of legal observers. Others have bluntly labeled Trump’s criticism as racist.
The presumptive GOP nominee claims that his plan to build a massive wall along the U.S. border with Mexico has resulted in a conflict of interest for Curiel in the case over Trump’s for-profit university.
“He’s proud of his heritage, OK? I’m building a wall,” Trump told Tapper. “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico,” he added.
Tapper, however, pointed out that Curiel was born in Indiana.
“We live in a society that’s very pro-Mexico, and that’s fine. That’s all fine,” Trump said at another point in the interview. “But I think he should recuse himself.”
“Because he’s a Latino?” Tapper asked.
“I’m building a wall,” Trump maintained.
Watch part of the interview below:
Trump defends his claim that judge in Trump Univ. case is biased due to his heritage: “He should recuse himself” https://t.co/0z0l76KHgE
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) June 3, 2016