Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump reportedly instructed his surrogates Monday to follow his lead in attacking a judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University, according to reports from CNN and Bloomberg News. Trump also reportedly encouraged them to intensify their comebacks to reporters covering the both the lawsuit and his attacks on the judge.
An anonymous Republican source told CNN that Trump and a campaign official who was also on the call told surrogates to raise the issue of judicial activism when talking about Curiel. Bloomberg reported that Trump noted Curiel is a “member of La Raza”; Curiel is associated with La Raza Lawyers of California, a bar association.
Bloomberg talked with two people on the call who spoke on anonymity and said Trump instructed his surrogates to let what he portrayed as hypocritical TV reporters “have it.”
“The people asking the questions—those are the racists,” Trump reportedly said, seeming irritated. “I would go at ’em.”
Trump had said that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over cases against Trump University in California, has a conflict of interest because of his “Mexican heritage.” The businessman has railed against Hispanics since he launched his campaign, when he infamously stated that some undocumented immigrants were “rapists” and “criminals.”
“The call was scheduled in order for Mr. Trump to thank his supporters and congratulate everyone as the primaries officially come to an end,” Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks told Bloomberg. “Many topics were discussed and it was a productive call for all parties.”
On the call with his surrogates, the real estate mogul also reportedly contradicted instructions distributed to surrogates by his own staff member. A memo sent Sunday by a staff member and obtained by Bloomberg told surrogates that they were not at liberty to discuss the Trump University lawsuit publicly.
“Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said, as quoted by Bloomberg. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”
The memo was distributed to some of Trump’s campaign staffers, including Hicks, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and a top aide to Paul Manafort, who is Trump’s top strategist.
“Take that order and throw it the hell out,” Trump said, as quoted by Bloomberg.
The post has been updated.