DES MOINES, IA - SEPTEMBER 19: Republican presidential candidate, and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), speaks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition 15th Annual Family Banquet and Presidential Forum held at the Iowa State fairgrounds on September 19, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Eight of the Republican candidates including Donald Trump are expected to attend the event. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)
Photo: Steve Pope
Photo: Steve Pope

Lindsey Graham urges Republicans to drop Trump endorsements

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham urged Republicans to drop their endorsements of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in the wake of his widely criticized comments about whether a judge can oversee a case without bias based solely on his ethnic background.

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Trump has come under fire after saying U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel is unfit to oversee the case against the business mogul's now-defunct Trump University. He has argued that because Curiel is Mexican-American, and because Trump has made it no secret that he plans to build a wall between Mexico and America if he is elected president, the judge is inherently biased against him.

"This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy," Graham told The New York Times. "If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There'll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary."

Speaking with NBC News on Tuesday, Graham said he plans to write in a candidate when he votes in November. He said he is unable to vote for either Trump or presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Graham, who dropped his own bid for the White House last December, has criticized Trump consistently since he threw his name in the hat for the nomination in June 2015.

Most notably, Graham criticized Trump for questioning Sen. John McCain's record as a war hero because McCain was captured during the Vietnam War. Trump claimed during a rally last July that Graham called him, "begging" for a reference to get him in on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" program. As proof of his claims, Trump gave out Graham's cellphone number.

Graham has not been alone in rebuking Trump, although no politician has gone further so far to condemn the presumptive nominee.

At a press conference on Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) admitted that Trump's comments equated to "the textbook definition of a racist comment," but followed up by saying he didn't think a vote for Clinton was a viable alternative.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Curiel, who was born in Indiana, because "he's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico."

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump denied that his comments were racist after attempting to dodge the anchor's question 23 times.

In a call with surrogates Monday first reported by Bloomberg News, Trump told supporters to double down on his comments against the judge.

He doubled down on the comments himself Sunday, telling CBS' "Face the Nation" that it was possible a Muslim judge could be biased against him because of his controversial proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States.

Despite the criticism, it's unlikely that Curiel will be removed from the case.

As NPR noted Saturday, Trump's lawyers have not filed a motion to have Curiel recused, "undoubtedly because court precedents are unanimous in holding that race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual orientation are not themselves grounds for disqualifying a judge. If they were, legal ethicists observe, the legal system would fall into chaos because no judge would be free from taint."

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