Donald Trump says that remarks he made about a judge's Mexican heritage were "misconstrued" —- a statement that came after a firestorm erupted as a result of the comments.
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"It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage," Trump said in his statement, issued Tuesday.
"I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial."
Trump drew fire when he questioned whether federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel could be impartial presiding over two lawsuits against the real estate mogul's now-shuttered seminar program, Trump University.
In an apparent attempt to lessen the perception that he is not looked upon favorably by Hispanics, Trump tweeted an article titled, "Poll Claims Latinos May Be Warming to Donald Trump."
Trump suggested that his promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico potentially made Curiel, who is an American of Mexican descent, biased in the cases.
Trump reiterated that belief in a series of interviews last week, including one on CNN in which he said Curiel, who was born in Indiana, is "proud of his heritage."
"This judge is giving us unfair rulings. Now I say why. Well, I'm building a wall, OK? And it's a wall between Mexico, not another country," Trump said in the interview on June 3.
The comments prompted a backlash from leading Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who endorsed Trump last week.
"I disavow those comments. I regret those comments he made. I don’t think claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed," Ryan said earlier today.
Trump's CNN interview was used for an attack ad by Hillary Clinton's campaign, which featured Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Bob Corker and political commentator Anna Navarro criticizing the remarks.
Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations in the suits over which Curiel is presiding.