Megyn Kelly intensified her criticism of Donald Trump’s racist attacks against the judge in the case while her colleague Bill O’Reilly defended the GOP presidential hopeful’s position.
Trump said U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given his “Mexican heritage.”
“I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal last week.
Agreeing with Trump, O’Reilly said that Curiel should recuse himself from the case “to eliminate any doubt as to the motivation in court rulings,” even though, the host stressed, the judge has done “nothing wrong.”
“There are plenty of federal judges that could immediately step in,” O’Reilly, who later interviewed Trump about the trial, said. “It is valid that some may see any recusal as caving to intimidation. But stark justice in a case this important, trumps, pardon the pun, any theoretical argument.”
Kelly strongly disagreed with O'Reilly's position.
“That is not the way our system works,” she said on her show an hour later.
“If a litigant making stink about a judge necessarily resulted in a conflict that would force the judge to step down, it would lead to chaos in our court system,” she added.
Last week, Kelly, a former attorney, said the business mogul’s comments about Curiel were “out of line.”
Earlier in the day, several members of Trump’s own party took issue with his latest statements about Curiel.
“His comments are wrong and offensive and I’ve asked him to retract them,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said, according to the Journal.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also skewered Trump's position.
“We don’t judge you as part of a group. That would be to suggest that blacks can’t get a fair white judge, whites can’t get a fair black judge,” Gingrich said on “The John Gibson Show.” “Once you go down that road, you destroy America. You can’t take a group definition and apply it.”
On Sunday, Gingrich called Trump's comments about Curiel “one of the worst mistakes Trump has made.”
“I think it's inexcusable,” Gingrich told Fox News.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar,rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.