On Fox News’ “The Five” program today, commentators took on Donald Trump’s rhetoric about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is reviewing a civil fraud case involving the New Yorker’s now-defunct Trump University. Trump has been criticized, not only by Democrats but by Republicans as well, over his suggestion that Curiel’s Mexican parentage is an “inherent conflict of interest” on the judge’s part that should be addressed. Trump called on Curiel to recuse himself last week, given that Trump has called for building a wall along the U.S./Mexico frontier.
Today, Hillary Clinton's campaign released an that used Republicans' words about Trump to join them in condemning their presumptive nominee. The ad used comments made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and RNC Hispanic media chief Ana Navarro that chastised Trump over his comments about Curiel.
On Fox News' "The Five," Native New Yorker Jedediah Bila said “Conservatives have been fighting against identity politics for a long time. This is what the left does. They isolate people based on your gender, based on––’let’s cater to women, let’s cater to this group of people’––and conservatives are always saying, ‘No, we’re all people.'”
Another member of The Five, Tom Shillue, agreed and said “this is what Democrats do… they are saying that people should vote a certain way or think a certain way because of their ethnicity.” He concluded, “So, Trump’s doing nothing different than the DNC does every day!”
The pair agreed said that Trump should back away from comments such as these and instead focus on winning the general election in November. Shillue argued that Trump University is a dead issue that no one cares about. Shillue added that the Democratic National Committee consistently engages in identity politics when it calls on “Hispanic Americans have to unite against Trump. They are saying that people should vote a certain way or think a certain way because of their ethnicity. So, Trump is not doing anything different than what the DNC does every day.”
However, Bila wondered, “Does this guy wanna win? If he wants to win, he needs Hispanics, he needs women. He needs to watch what he says… You’re giving Hillary Clinton her campaign material!”
Also present on the show were Eric Bolling, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and columnist Juan Williams. Guilfoyle called on Trump to “focus on Hillary Clinton: eyes on the target.”
Also on Fox, host Bill O’Reilly on his eponymous broadcast joined Trump in calling for Curiel to recuse himself from the Trump University case. O'Reilly had called for Curiel to step down in the past, and tonight he said Curiel should step down from the case so as to "eliminate any doubt as to the motivation in court rulings." O’Reilly said, "Mr. Trump is correct to be indignant and defend himself vigorously." O’Reilly cited Curiel's affiliation with the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, which is in turn associated with the National Council of La Raza – a nonprofit Latino organization that espouses immigration reform.
Bush-era former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzalez noted in a newspaper op-ed that Judge Curiel appointed the Robbins Geller law firm to represent plaintiffs in the Trump University case and that the firm has paid $675,000 in speaking fees since 2009 to Hillary Clinton and to her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Gonzalez said, "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." The former attorney general questioned Curiel's affiliation with the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association.
The comments on Fox News came on the same day that U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela - a Democrat who represents Brownsville TX in the House of Representatives -- released an open letter to Trump that suggested that the New Yorker should take the border wall he wants and "shove it up your ***." Vela recounted that one of his ancestors came to the United States well before Trump's, while he also paid tribute to Americans of Mexican ancestry who have served heroicly in the Armed Forces to defend their country.
Here follows the open letter from Congressman Vela:
Dear Mr. Trump,
As the United States Representative for the 34th Congressional District of Texas, I do not disagree with everything you say. I agree that the United States Government has largely failed our veterans, and those of us who represent the people in Congress have the obligation to rectify the Veterans Administration’s deficiencies. I also believe that the Mexican government and our own State Department must be much more aggressive in addressing cartel violence and corruption in Mexico, especially in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas. And clearly, criminal felons who are here illegally should be immediately deported. There might even be a few other things on which we can agree.
However, your ignorant anti-immigrant opinions, your border wall rhetoric, and your recent bigoted attack on an American jurist are just plain despicable.
Your position with respect to the millions of undocumented Mexican workers who now live in this country is hateful, dehumanizing, and frankly shameful. The vast number of these individuals work in hotels, restaurants, construction sites, and agricultural fields across the United States. If I had to guess, your own business enterprises either directly or indirectly employ more of these workers than most other businesses in our country. Thousands of our businesses would come to a grinding halt if we invoked a policy that would require "mass deportation" as you and many of your supporters would suggest. That is precisely why the Republican-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce agrees that these workers deserve a national immigration policy that would give them a pathway to citizenship.
While you would build more and bigger walls on the U.S.-Mexico border, I would tear the existing wall to pieces. No doubt Mexico has its problems, but it is also our third-largest trading partner. U.S. Chamber of Commerce has documented that this trade relationship is responsible for six million jobs in the United States. In 2015, the U.S. imported $296 billion in goods from Mexico while exporting $235 billion in products manufactured in this country to Mexico. The Great Wall of China is historically obsolete, and President Ronald Reagan famously declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall … " while urging the Soviet Union to destroy the barrier that divided West and East Berlin. Why any modern-thinking person would ever believe that building a wall along the border of a neighboring country, which is both our ally and one of our largest trading partners, is frankly astounding and asinine.
I should also point out that thousands of Americans of Mexican descent that you mistakenly refer to as “Mexicans” have valiantly served the United States in every conflict since the Civil War. While too numerous to list, let me educate you about a few of these brave Medal of Honor recipients:
Master Sergeant Jose Lopez, from my own hometown of Brownsville, Texas, fought in World War II. Lopez was awarded the United States’ highest military decoration for valor in combat - the Medal of Honor - for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge, in which he single handedly repulsed a German infantry attack, killing at least 100 enemy troops. If you ever run into Kris Kristofferson, ask him about Jose Lopez because as a young man Mr. Kristofferson recalls the 1945 parade honoring Sergeant Lopez as an event he will never forget.
In 1981, President Reagan presented Master Sergeant Roy Benavides with the Medal of Honor for fighting in what has been described as “6 hours in hell.” In Vietnam, Sergeant Benavides suffered 37 separate bullet, bayonet and shrapnel wounds to his face, leg, head and stomach while saving the lives of eight men. In fact, when awarding the honor to Benavides, President Reagan, turned to the media and said, “if the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it.”
You have now descended to a new low in your racist attack of an American jurist, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, by calling him a “Mexican” simply because he ruled against you in a case in which you are being accused of fraud, among other accusations. Judge Curiel is one of 124 Americans of Hispanic descent who have served this country with honor and distinction as federal district judges. In fact, the first Hispanic American ever named to the federal bench in the United States, Judge Reynaldo G. Garza, was also from Brownsville, Texas, and was appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
Before you dismiss me as just another “Mexican,” let me point out that my great-great grandfather came to this country in 1857, well before your own grandfather. His grandchildren (my grandfather and his brothers) all served our country in World War I and World War II. His great-grandson, my father, served in the U.S. Army and, coincidentally, was one of the first “Mexican” federal judges ever appointed to the federal bench.
I would like to end this letter in a more diplomatic fashion, but I think that you, of all people, understand why I cannot. I will not presume to speak on behalf of every American of Mexican descent, for every undocumented worker born in Mexico who is contributing to our country every day or, for that matter, every decent citizen in Mexico. But, I am sure that many of these individuals would agree with me when I say: ‘Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.’