California Senate President: Trump's Attack on Federal Judge is Racist, Anti-Immigrant

June 07, 2016


Kevin de León

president pro-tem of the California Senate.

Gilbert Cedillo

Los Angeles city councilmember who spent 14 years in the California Legislature. He supports Bernie Sanders.

Leading Republicans have continued to criticize presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for attacking a Mexican-American judge. Trump has said the judge should recuse himself from a lawsuit against the defunct for-profit Trump University, because his Mexican heritage represents a conflict of interest, since Trump wants to build a wall on the Mexican border. We get a response from Kevin de León, president pro-tem of the California Senate, and Los Angeles city councilmember and former California state legislator Gil Cedillo.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to the latest controversy: Donald Trump being forced by a federal judge to release internal Trump University documents amidst an ongoing lawsuit arguing the defunct for-profit school defrauded students. Trump is going after the judge, doubling down on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, this most recently at a campaign rally in San Diego.

DONALD TRUMP: I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel. The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?

AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, the Clinton campaign issued an ad featuring Republican lawmakers and party officials criticizing Trump’s recent remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

JAKE TAPPER: If you are saying he can’t do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?

DONALD TRUMP: No, I don’t think so at all. We’re building a wall. He’s a Mexican.

ANA NAVARRO: How dare he question a judge’s responsibility, a judge’s adherence to the Constitution, because he is of Mexican descent!

CHUCK TODD: Is that not a racist statement?

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL: I couldn’t disagree more with a statement like that.

CHRIS WALLACE: Are you comfortable with a potential president attacking a federal judge for his heritage?

NEWT GINGRICH: No. This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. I think it’s inexcusable.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: He says that when he questions whether the judge can be fair because of his Mexican heritage, that is not racist. Do you agree?

SEN. BOB CORKER: Look, I—I don’t condone the comments.

REP. PAUL RYAN: I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.

ANA NAVARRO: He is just as American as Donald Trump. Mexican Americans bleed just as any other American when they go to war. They bled just as any other American on 9/11. They fight for America. They are Americans. And what he is doing is disgusting. I’m livid about it. And if this is his strategy to win over Hispanics, he’s got a hell of a wake-up call coming to him, come November.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Hillary Clinton’s new ad, featuring a string of Republican officials criticizing Donald Trump. And that last voice was Republican strategist Ana Navarro. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, in there, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, House Speaker Paul Ryan and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—all those voices in that ad. Gil Cedillo, this attack on the judge, on Judge Curiel, a judge who was first nominated—chosen for the bench by Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican, who has faced death threats from Mexican drug cartels, born in Indiana, your response?

COUNCILMEMBER GIL CEDILLO: Look, if it wasn’t so serious, it would be hilarious. I mean, this is just ridiculous. It’s absurd. He’s a demagogue. It is patent, you know, racism. It’s racist by definition. It just shows the danger that his candidacy poses for the nation. And, you know, since Donald Trump first came forward as a candidate, we introduced a resolution in the Los Angeles City Council for us to divest ourselves from him, from his holdings, for the city to separate ourselves from him, because of his racist comments. Maybe that’s what he means when he says Mexico doesn’t send their best, they send their worst. You know, maybe he means people who get educated, people who become professionals, people who become judges. Maybe he considers that the worst that Mexico can send him.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Kevin de León, president pro-tem of the California Senate, also of Mexican heritage, your response to this attack?

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: I think Trump’s comments are disgusting. They’re abhorrent. And let’s call it what it is: They are racist, because they’re anti-immigrant. If he doesn’t like an individual or a group of individuals because they don’t concur with his views, he calls them out. And he doesn’t call them out based on their ideology, doesn’t call them out based on any debatable thoughts or policies or ideologies. He calls them out based on the hue of their skin, based on their origin, their ethnic origin. That’s racism. There’s nothing ambiguous. There’s nothing vague.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, he directly was asked if he would—

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: There’s nothing abstract. That’s called racism. Gonzalo—

AMY GOODMAN: And he was asked if he would—

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: As to Curiel, who lives in San Diego now—you had just mentioned a few moments ago, because I’m from the San Diego-Tijuana region. One of the worst drug cartels on the border in Tijuana, Arellano-Félix brothers, one of the worst Mexican drug cartels—his life was under threat by the drug cartels, because he was one of the prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. So his life was on the line, doing everything possible to help stop the flow of drugs in the United States. And for Donald Trump to just outright call him what he did is abhorrent.

But also, if you recall during the Republican primary, when Jeb Bush was speaking in Spanish, trying to connect to the Latino community, he said, "Why are you speaking Mexican, Jeb Bush?" He didn’t say, "Why are you speaking Spanish?" or "Why are you speaking another language?" He said, "Why are you speaking Mexican?" So he says things on purpose to elicit a visceral emotional reaction that can further divide the fabric of this incredible mosaic which is the great United States of America. Again, let me underscore and emphasize: This man is the most dangerous man to come out ever for the presidency. And many folks have underestimated him, because who would have ever thought, who would have ever fathomed that this man would vanquish Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, Christie—Governor Chris Christie from New Jersey and other established political Republican opponents? So, we take this man very seriously, even though his comments are very comical, you know—

AMY GOODMAN: Would you call him a—

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: —outlandish, very clownish.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you call him a racist?

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: I would call him a racist.

AMY GOODMAN: And Gil Cedillo?

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: I’ll be very clear—let me be very clear, so it’s unambiguous: Donald Trump is a racist. He is anti-immigrant. He is anti-American.

AMY GOODMAN: Gil Cedillo?

COUNCILMEMBER GIL CEDILLO: I think the record speaks for itself. His comments speak for themselves. And I think the senator said it best: He’s anti-American, is what he is, more than anything else.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to—

COUNCILMEMBER GIL CEDILLO: He’s demonstrated that he’s anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim, anti-women, anti-gay, anti-disabled. I mean, he is the anti candidate, and we must be united to defeat him.

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