Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. exits the stage after speaking during a commemoration ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which abolished slavery in the United States, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Just days after Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the U.S. Senate’s sole African American Republican member, labeled Donald Trump’s criticism of the Mexican-American judge overseeing the Trump University case as “racially toxic,” the lawmaker reaffirmed his support for the divisive presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Trump has come under fire by many in the GOP for his racially-tinged criticism of federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s handling of the lawsuit against Trump University. Among other things, he has called the judge a “hater” who has been “very hostile” and biased in his rulings.
“I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge. This judge is of Mexican heritage, OK? I’m building a wall between here and Mexico. I’m trying to keep business out of Mexico,” Trump told CNN’s Jake Trapper, citing the reasons he believes Curiel is prejudiced against him. “I think he needs to recuse himself.”
Scott was among the Republican leaders who sounded off on Trump’s racist language.
“I think they were racially toxic,” Scott said of Trump’s remarks earlier this week. “Obviously his comments were in line with his primary language, which is not in our best interest either.”
On June 7, Trump issued a statement saying his comments were “misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage” when he was only questioning Curiel’s handling of the case.
Scott seemed quick to accept Trump’s non-apology, saying to CNN on June 7: “I think he’s done a good job in the last 24 hours of realizing the impact of those comments. I think it shows real leadership when he takes responsibility and walks those comments back. I think that’s a good direction, a new direction frankly and one that I am pleased with.”
He later told The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier that while he might find Trump’s words troubling, he would continue to support the GOP nominee.
“I’m not living in a silo,” Scott said. “The reality of it is, we have the impact of Trump’s policies and positions compared to Hillary Clinton’s policies and positions, and I am entirely convinced the country is better off under the policies and positions of the Republican Party than they are under the Democratic Party.”
Not every Republican is as encouraged by Trump’s explanation, however—most notably Scott’s fellow South Carolina senator.
“The bar is low,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), told CNN of his fellow GOP senators’ acceptance of Trump’s latest apology.
“I think it shows a conscience on his part that he stepped in it. Whether or not this is a major correction or not, I don’t know,” said Graham, who abandoned his own presidential campaign last year. “His excuse that his statement was misconstrued—nobody believes that. But it is some recognition that he needs to be more disciplined.”