Smerconish: Trump Attack on Trump University Judge ‘Poses to Undermine the Entire Judicial System’

Thursday on CNN’s “New Day,” network Michael Smerconish warned that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s attack on U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge presiding over the lawsuits against Trump University, “poses to undermine the entire judicial system.”

But Smerconish also pointed to Breitbart editor at large Peter Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash,” which he had earlier said would be the “playbook” for this fall’s election, put some of the questions about the Clinton Global Initiative into play.

Transcript as follows:

SMERCONISH: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: We just had Donald Trump supporter, Congressman Chris [Collins], on and he just told Chris —

CUOMO: Collins.

CAMEROTA: Oh, Chris Collins?

CUOMO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Chris Collins on, and he said you know, Donald Trump has already past it. He’s already moved past those claims of a racist comment about the judge. Has he?

SMERCONISH: No, I don’t think so. I think this issue has really resonated because of the risk that it poses to undermine the entire judicial system. I kicked off a kerfuffle on Tuesday night in CNN’s coverage when, respectfully, I said to our colleague, Jeffrey Lord, there’s one question Donald Trump can’t answer. Why hasn’t a recusal motion been filed for that judge? And that lingers.

If he thinks he’s biased, then why isn’t Daniel Petrocelli, who is a very accomplished trial lawyer — you remember him of O.J. fame — why hasn’t he asked for the judge to step aside? They haven’t’ done that. CUOMO: Well, not only why has he not asked the judge to step aside — you’re right, 100 percent. Petrocelli was caught on tape — not caught, he gave an interview —

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: — and he said the judge is doing his job. We’re not going to move for a move.

CAMEROTA: Right. We’re not going to ask for a move.

CUOMO: And what exposes is a potential metaphor effect for Trump, Smerconish, which is you just saw how he could handle a situation when he doesn’t like the outcome, even if it means exaggerating the facts to the point of just being untrue.

SMERCONISH: So, to your larger question of the peaks and the valleys, and where are we and where is this going next, I don’t see him, yet, as having pivoted from the primary season. He’s still acting like he’s in a primary contest. What really changed Tuesday with his speech, he added teleprompters, but it was pretty much the same old Trump.

And, Chris and Alisyn, what’s to come on Monday? I mean, what exactly is that speech going to look like? Is it going to be a litany of the 90’s charges about the Clintons because I think the nation has moved on from that? That will play to his base. They hate the Clintons, but that is not expanding the tent.

CAMEROTA: I don’t know, Michael. You know, we’ve interviewed scores of Trump supporters. They hate when the media tells them how to feel. They hate when the media dictates the agenda. If Trump’s supporters have moved on, then we’ve moved on, right?

SMERCONISH: But Alisyn, I have in my hands the autopsy report from 2012’s election. You remember this.

CAMEROTA: Of course.

SMERCONISH: It came out in 2014. “It is imperative that the RNC changes how it engages with Hispanic communities.” Is he doing that? He hasn’t learned any of the lessons of what went wrong in 2012. So you are absolutely correct in what you say about the base, but it’s time to grow the tent because what did he get? Thirty to 40 percent of the 24 percent of Americans who are Republicans. That’s eight to 10 percent of the American society. It’s not enough.

CUOMO: Except, I guess, to extend the analogy, Trump’s supporters would argue this is a different body than the one you’re looking at the autopsy for. He’s brought in an energy and a captured spirit of the anger and frustration in this country that ordinarily a GOP candidate would not because they’re part of the establishment/problem as viewed by those who are upset in this country, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Chris, he’s got a demographic issue. You know that, he knows that. In 2050, this country is going to look a lot different than it looks today. We’re already headed in a majority-minority direction. Look at the state of California. And I think that the Trump playbook, thus far, is all about rallying a very hardened core of support that I don’t think there are enough left in this country to move him over the finish line.

CAMEROTA: So Michael, you know there’s always this talk that maybe this third party candidate is going to descend. Not Gary Johnson, but an Independent. And Bill Crystal has been trying to lead that charge. It hasn’t worked out yet. There’s this retreat happening at Mitt Romney’s place. Do you think there will be another candidate getting in the race?

SMERCONISH: I don’t. I think that that clock is ticking. We’re all mindful of the Texas deadline having run, and you could say well, that really wouldn’t matter because Texas is a pretty red state, still, in presidential elections.

I really think Johnson-Weld — I really believe that two, two-term Republican governors from blue states are going to put a dent into this campaign. I’m not going to tell you that they’ll win, but I think that if pollsters will include them they will get the requisite 15 percent, they’ll be standing on that debate stage, and they will become yet another wild card in what is already a crazy cycle.

CUOMO: We’ll have to see and, in truth, they do have a little bit of a circular problem there, right? They can’t get into the polls because they don’t have a threshold. Then they can’t get the threshold because they’re not in the polls. What do you think in the matchup of Trump University, what he said about the judge, and that dogging him going forward versus his attack line on the Clintons, which is the Foundation?

He’s moved away from the sexual innuendoes about what Hillary’s role was to now this. How much there, there? How much teeth is in the Clinton Global Initiative Foundation allegations?

SMERCONISH: Listen, when he said on Tuesday night that he’s going to deliver this speech, what I really was hearing him say is that he’s going to stand up soon and essentially read from Peter Schweizer’s book, “Clinton Cash” and the Clinton supporters were very quick to dismiss it. I read it. I found it to be credible.

And I would remind people that The Washington Post and The New York Times, not exactly conservative oracles, built on Schweizer’s reporting. And what was the premise of the book? The premise of the book was that foreign individuals who aren’t permitted by law to donate to an American presidential campaign, or campaign of any kind, nevertheless curried favors with the Clintons by paying him big bucks to speak, and making donations to the Clinton Initiative, and were rewarded.

Did he close that loop? Well, he didn’t close the loop because the final chapter of the book is “quid pro quo?” But he raised enough questions that I think it legitimately puts this issue in play.

CAMEROTA: Michael, always great to get your insight. Thanks so much for being with us.

SMERCONISH: OK, guys, thank you.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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