Trump Orders Surrogates to Defend Him on Judge Issue

The presumptive GOP nominee is telling his top supporters how to defend him.

ByCandace Smith and John Santucci
June 06, 2016, 8:21 PM

— -- As Donald Trump endures fierce scrutiny for comments he made about the judge presiding over a case against his now-shuttered school, the presumptive nominee told top supporters and surrogates to defend him on television and in interviews.

In a conference call Monday, Trump spoke personally to those tasked with defending him for comments he made about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, which intimated that the American-born judge had “bias” against him because of his plans to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and should not preside over his case due to his Mexican heritage.

"We will overcome,” Trump said, according to one source on the call. “And I’ve always won and I’m going to continue to win. And that’s the way it is."

Sources tell ABC News the discussion was “productive,” and Trump wanted to give those on the call insight on how to defend him.

Trump was taken aback when he learned of a memo that had been sent out by campaign staffer Erica Freeman, reportedly instructing surrogates to stop talking about the pending lawsuits filed against Trump for the now-closed Trump University, a source said. Freeman declined comment.

As first reported by Bloomberg News, the memo informed surrogates "they're not authorized to discuss matters concerning the Trump Organization including corporate news such as the Trump University case.”

Trump denied giving such instructions, telling those on the call to defend him vigorously, according to a source. “He did speak to the fact that we were getting erroneous information,” one source told ABC News. According to sources, Trump discussed Curiel’s affiliation with La Raza, a Hispanic rights group that was described as extremely pro-Mexico on the call.

Trump instructed them to use that information to lay out the case against him, the source said. Trump, both in speeches and in court documents, has repeatedly denied the allegations in the suit.

Curiel is affiliated with La Raza Lawyers of California, a bar association, according to the Associated Press. The group describes itself as: "an independent unincorporated association of Lawyers organized in 1977 to support Chicano and Latino Lawyers in California and serve as a statewide network for local affiliate La Raza Lawyers Groups."

"The call was scheduled in order for Mr. Trump to thank his supporters and congratulate everyone as the primaries officially come to an end," campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, told ABC News in a statement. "Many topics were discussed and it was a productive call for all parties.”

A firestorm erupted after Trump suggested that Curiel has an "absolute conflict" in the Trump U. case because of his Mexican heritage. Curiel is an American citizen and was born in Indiana.

On Sunday, Trump doubled down on his claims.

"I say he's got bias. I want to build a wall," Trump said on CNN. "This judge has treated me very unfairly, he's treated me in a hostile manner. And there's something going on."

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