Donald Trump has made headlines lately for attacking Federal District Judge Gonzalo Curiel for his “Mexican heritage.” But as The Atlantic points out, Trump’s hateful remarks toward Curiel may have less to do with his ethnicity and more to with the severity of the legal charges Trump could face in regards to Trump University.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said Curiel’s heritage presents an “absolute conflict,” clearly trying to deflect from the real issue at hand. Trump said,
‘I’m building a wall, it’s an inherent conflict of interest.’
The business mogul went on to call Curiel a “hater of Donald Trump,” saying the American legal system is “rigged.”
Curiel is presiding over two class-action lawsuits regarding Trump University. Low vs. Trump University was filed in April of 2010, and the other, Cohen vs. Trump, was filed in October of 2013. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also filed a suit against Trump in that state, which is still pending today.
Basically, both Low and Cohen believe Trump University was a fraudulent scheme intended to make Donald Trump even more money. The cases accuse Trump of fraudulent business operations and they have evidence and testimony to back up their claims. Of course, Trump himself strongly denies the allegations against the university.
The Atlantic makes an important distinction between Low and Cohen. Low is suing Trump and Trump University in a standard class-action lawsuit, whereas Cohen is going after the business mogul through a provision of the RICO Act. The RICO Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, that Cohen is using to target Trump is a hell of a lot more serious. Essentially, Cohen views Trump University as a criminal operation, with Trump himself as the head of a racketeering scheme. Curiel wrote about one of Trump’s assertions:
‘Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have raised a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Mr. Trump can be personally liable for the alleged misrepresentations and misconduct. For example, Plaintiffs have provided evidence that Mr. Trump reviewed and approved all advertisements. These advertisements included the alleged core misrepresentations, such as that Mr. Trump “hand-picked” the instructors and mentors.’
As it turns out, Judge Curiel denied summary judgment in the Low case on the basis of dispute over just how much personal involvement Trump himself had in the case. However, due to his public admittance of his personal involvement, Curiel had evidence to deny the motion so a jury could weigh the evidence and make a decision.
Until July 18th, things are up in the air and Trump awaits to hear whether or not Trump University will be found as being a criminal enterprise under the RICO Act.
So there is a reason why Trump is trying to trash Curiel’s reputation: because the RICO charges he could be facing are extremely serious.
As The Daily Kos ironically pointed out, the GOP Convention also begins on July 18th. Yikes!