House Speaker Paul Ryan, a day after throwing his support behind Donald Trump, already has had to distance himself from one of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s comments.
The controversial remarks focused on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who's hearing a Trump University lawsuit. Trump told The Wall Street Journal that Curiel has "an absolute conflict of interest" because of his Mexican heritage as well as "an inherent conflict of interest" because Trump wants to build the border wall.
Asked Friday morning during a WISN radio interview about those comments, Ryan called them “out of left field.”
"It's reasoning I don't relate to, I completely disagree with the thinking behind that," Ryan said.
The speaker noted he’s “had to speak up” from time to time and said he’ll continue to do so, adding: “I hope it’s not” necessary.
The pushback comes a day after Ryan announced he would be voting for Trump, an announcement his office said amounts to an endorsement. This ended a tense period during which Ryan held back his endorsement amid reservations about the presumptive GOP nominee’s policy stances and past comments.
Even as he chided Trump for the judge comments, Ryan called Trump a “willing partner” for implementing a conservative agenda.
The Hillary Clinton campaign, meanwhile, slammed Trump for his remarks on the judge, saying: “The fact that Donald Trump doesn't see Judge Curiel and his family as Americans makes him unfit to be president of this great nation, a nation of immigrants.”
Curiel is a native of Indiana whose parents emigrated from Mexico. He received undergraduate and law degrees from Indiana University and served as a federal prosecutor and a judge in the California state judicial system before being nominated to the federal bench by President Barack Obama in 2011.
Trump University is the target of two lawsuits in San Diego and one in New York that accuse the business of fleecing students with unfulfilled promises to teach secrets of success in real estate. Trump has maintained that customers were overwhelmingly satisfied.
The school emerged as an issue in a February Republican presidential debate, after which Trump made his first comments criticizing Curiel.
The judge seemingly raised Trump's ire anew last week when he ordered the release of documents that had been sealed. Trump's campaign and private lawyers handling the lawsuits did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Federal judges have repeatedly rebuffed calls to step aside from cases over race, religion and ethnicity. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman, who is Jewish, turned down a request to withdraw from a case of a Palestinian immigrant accused of lying about her role in a fatal terrorist attack. "Like every one of my colleagues on the bench, I have a history and a heritage, but neither interferes with my ability to administer impartial justice," Borman said.
He later did step aside from the case, after discovering his family had an investment in the Jerusalem supermarket the woman helped bomb in 1969. Financial interests often are involved when judges withdraw.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.