New York City’s top elected Latina official held a news conference in front of Trump Tower on Monday to denounce remarks made by Donald Trump on the ethnicity of a federal judge and how it biases him as “hateful, xenophobic and bigoted.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito accused the presumptive GOP presidential nominee of a racist attack on U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a California court case against Trump University.
“He’s quite literally saying Judge Curiel can’t do his job because of his ethnicity,” Mark-Viverito, a Democrat and the first Latina to take citywide office, said in Manhattan. “That is the definition of racism.”
A representative for Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump has said Curiel has “an inherent conflict of interest” because he is of Mexican descent and Trump has proposed building a wall along the southern border of the United States and having Mexico foot the bill.
The candidate also has faced criticism over his remarks about Curiel, who was born in Indiana to immigrant parents, from GOP colleagues, including supporter and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
Trump told Fox News on Monday that it was “inappropriate” for Gingrich to weigh in.
The real estate mogul did not back off of his argument that Curiel cannot act impartially.
“All I want to do is find out why am I being treated so unfairly by a judge,” Trump said.
He has made several references and allusions to Curiel’s ethnic background as the judge oversees a case on the alleged fleecing of students at the Trump University real estate seminar program.
Mark-Viverito is a supporter of Trump’s likely general election opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The event Monday was organized with the Democratic National Committee.
Mark-Viverito was joined by the first Mexican-American elected to the City Council, Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn).
The civil rights group founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the National Action Network, was listed as an attendee on the news release but was not represented at the news conference.
Mark-Viverito acknowledged that she believes Trump could win the White House and urged voters to mobilize against him in November.