Donald Trump advised prominent campaign surrogates to go after journalists who ask questions about a Trump University lawsuit and encouraged them to defend him against criticism of his comments about the US district judge presiding over the case.
Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has taken heat over his questioning of US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel's ability to handle two fraud lawsuits involving the for-profit real-estate school.
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The billionaire real-estate mogul has said that the Indiana-born Curiel's ethnic background creates an "inherent conflict of interest" because Trump has promised to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and deport immigrants who are in the country illegally.
His campaign reportedly issued a memo last week telling surrogates who are asked about the case and Trump's comments on Curiel that "the best possible response is 'the case will be tried in the courtroom in front of a jury — not in the media.'"
But Trump slammed that strategy during a private conference call with supporters on Monday, Bloomberg reported, citing two unnamed sources who shared their notes from the call.
When former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer brought up the memo during the call, Trump reportedly said, "Take that order and throw it the hell out."
Trump said that he didn't know the staffer who sent the memo and asked how the campaign could defend itself against criticism if supporters weren't allowed to talk about Curiel and Trump University in the media.
"Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?" Trump said, according to 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."
Trump also reportedly told his supporters to attack journalists who inquire about Curiel and the lawsuit. He's been beset by accusations of racism in recent days because he has questioned whether Curiel's ethnicity disqualifies him from handling the Trump University cases.
Trump reportedly advised going after journalists and suggested that they were the racially influenced party for questioning his comments about Curiel, according to Bloomberg.