Less than 24 hours after publicly endorsing Donald Trump for president, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan spoke out against another of the presumptive GOP nominee’s controversial remarks — his decision to attack a judge over his Hispanic heritage.
“The comment about (U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel) the other day just was out of left field from my mind,” Ryan said in an interview on The Vicki McKenna Show . “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to. I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.”
Last week, Trump attacked Curiel, who is presiding over a lawsuit that accuses the now defunct Trump University of fraud, as a “hater” who is biased against him.
“We’re in front of a very hostile judge,” Trump said at a May 27 rally in San Diego. “The judge was appointed by Barack Obama, federal judge. Frankly, he should recuse himself because he’s given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative.”
Then on Thursday, Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the case because he is “of Mexican heritage.” Curiel’s parents were Mexican immigrants but he was born in Indiana.
“I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Trump said, referring to his plan to build a wall along the southern U.S. border and have Mexico pay for it.
Ryan said that Trump “clearly says and does things I don’t agree with” and that he’s felt obliged at times to speak up in some of those instances and will continue to do so as necessary.
The speaker first spoke out against Trump when he said last year that his immigration policy would include a ban on Muslims entering the country. Ryan decried that proposal as “not conservatism.” Other Ryan responses followed: when the billionaire mogul hesitated to distance himself from white supremacist leader David Duke and when he condoned acts of violence occurring at his rallies.
Ryan’s Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was more reluctant to criticize Trump’s most recent comments when he appeared on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC program on Friday.
“What I am willing to say is Donald Trump is certainly a different kind of candidate,” McConnell said.
He later added, “Republican primary caucus voters wanted something very different from what we are accustomed to. And I think it’s safe to say Donald Trump is very different from what we’re accustomed to.”
McConnell’s interview prompted a response from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who tweeted , “It shouldn’t be hard to condemn someone for making racist comments about a Mexican judge,” along with a clip of McConnell’s interview.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Friday that Trump’s comments were “crossing a line, big time.”
“Of course, this is part of the pattern and practice of Donald Trump,” the California Democrat, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said on Mitchell’s program. “Anybody that says anything he doesn’t like, he comes back at in a very venal way.”
Feinstein referred to her own experience with political violence , noting that stoking divisions can have disastrous consequences.
“As a former mayor of San Francisco that became mayor as a product of assassination, I know what division does in a populace,” Feinstein said. “And it’s the one thing you don’t want.”
Feinstein became acting mayor of San Francisco in 1978 after then-mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay public officials, were shot and killed by an angry former supervisor. Feinstein heard the gunshots and discovered Milk’s body in his city hall office.
“America is this great glorious country because we have many different kinds of people here,” Feinstein said. “And the task of a chief executive is to bring people together in common purpose.”