Republican chiefs lash Trump over Latino judge row
Published 06/06/2016 | 02:30
A pair of powerful Senate Republicans warned Donald Trump to drop his attacks on a Latino judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University - joining widespread criticism of their presumptive presidential nominee's treatment of the judge.
And a third prominent Republican, who supports Mr Trump, urged the candidate to start acting like "a potential leader of the United States".
"We're all behind him now," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned, adding that it's time for unifying the party, not "settling scores and grudges." "I hope he'll change his direction."
So far, Mr Trump has refused, reiterating in interviews broadcast yesterday that US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel's Mexican heritage means he cannot ensure a fair trial involving a billionaire who wants to build a border wall to keep people from illegally entering the United States from Mexico.
Judge Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican-born parents - making him, in Mr Trump's view, "a hater of Donald Trump".
"I couldn't disagree more" with Trump's central argument, Mr McConnell said on NBC's 'Meet the Press'.
"I don't condone the comments," added Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on ABC's 'This Week'.
And Newt Gingrich, who became speaker of the House promising to open up the GOP to minorities, delivered the harshest warning of all.
"This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. I think it's inexcusable," Mr Gingrich, a former presidential contender, said on 'Fox News Sunday'.
Their remarks solidify the line GOP leaders have drawn in recent days between themselves and Mr Trump, with whom they've made a fragile peace - due to their shared feeling that almost anyone would be a better president than Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The GOP pushback against Mr Trump came two days before presidential primaries in California, home to more Latinos than whites. It's the final major battleground between Ms Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Far ahead of Mr Sanders in the delegate race, Ms Clinton is poised to clinch her party's nomination.
Mr Trump has no more competition for the GOP nomination, but he does have issues with the most senior elected members of the party he hopes to lead. On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Mr Trump, but 24 hours later he disavowed the billionaire's remarks about Judge Curiel.
Trump University is the target of two lawsuits in San Diego and one in New York that accuse the business of fleecing students with unfulfilled promises to teach the secrets of success in real estate. Mr Trump has maintained that customers were overwhelmingly satisfied.