Republicans slam Trump's 'racist' comments but still support him

"I'm With Racist" blares a headline on what was to be the front page of The New York Daily News on June 8, 2016. The newspaper later swapped out this cover for one featuring Hillary Clinton. Image from New York Daily News

Republican lawmakers blasted presidential candidateDonald Trump for making "racist" comments about a federal judge yet almost all vowed to continue supporting his campaign.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), the Speaker of the House, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the Senate Majority Leader, joined other top Republicans in condemning Trump for his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel. The real estate mogul has accused the judge, who is hearing a lawsuit involving the failed Trump University, of being biased due to his "Mexican" heritage.

“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” Ryan said on Tuesday during a visit to an overwhelmingly African American neighborhood in Washington, D.C., where he announced an anti-poverty initiative.

Yet Ryan, McConnell and other Republicans refused to walk away from Trump or admit they were wrong to endorse him. A notable exception is Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), who is running for re-election.

“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls," Kirk said in a statement. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American."

Despite the condemnations, Trump insisted that his comments about the judge were "misconstrued" as an attack on people of Mexican heritage. He is now refusing to talk about the Trump University lawsuit.

According to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, there are 96 active Hispanic or Latino judges in the federal court system. There are far fewer Native American ones -- Diane Humetewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe, remains the first and only Native woman on the federal bench.

Get the Story:
New York Daily News cover shames Paul Ryan: ‘I’m with racist’ (The Washington Post 6/8)
Paul Ryan Calls Donald Trump’s Attack on Judge ‘Racist,’ but Still Backs Him (The New York Times 6/8)
Trump promises not to let GOP down as leaders grow worried (AP 6/8)
GOP unite in denouncing Trump comments on judge (AP 6/7)
Trump says remarks about federal judge’s Mexican heritage were ‘misconstrued’ (AP 6/7)
Ryan says Trump’s attacks on judge fit ‘the textbook definition of a racist comment’ (The Washington Post 6/7)
Sen. Mark Kirk reverses course, says he will not support Donald Trump (The Washington Post 6/7)
Under heavy criticism, Trump says he won’t talk about judge in Trump University case any longer (The Washington Post 6/7)

An Opinion:
Dana Milbank: Everywhere Paul Ryan turns, there’s the smell of Trump (The Washington Post 6/7)

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