Washington (CNN)Donald Trump, under a barrage of pressure from inside and out of his party, seemed to play down his past critiques of a federal judge in a Monday interview.
“I want him to be a fair guy,” Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly of Indiana-born federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the case against Trump University. “Mexican or not Mexican: All I want him to do is to give me a fair shake.”
The presumptive GOP nominee has been extremely critical of Curiel, charging that he cannot impartially rule over the case because of his Mexican heritage, and labeling him a “hater” and “a Mexican.”
The seemingly tamped-down comments come after reports surfaced earlier in the day of a conference call with supporters where sources said the businessman vowed to keep up his criticisms of the Curiel.
That drew swift rebuke from many Republicans, including several of his most prominent supporters.
Yet even as Trump needled Curiel for treating him “very, very unfairly,” he largely signaled a new tone in the interview on Monday evening.
“I want to focus on things that we need to focus on,” Trump said, “not a civil lawsuit that I’m going to end up winning anyway.”
Trump downplays Curiel charges in wake of criticism