While Donald Trump has been trying to reframe his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel -- complaining about his membership in a Latino lawyers organization, or accusing him of bearing some responsibility for the Trump U plaintiffs' law firm's six-figure speech payments to Hillary Clinton -- it turns out that his own lawyer has given to Clinton's presidential campaign, and he did so after Trump hired him.
The lawyer defending Trump in the case, Daniel Petrocelli, has donated to Clinton and several Democrats over the years, Yahoo News' Mike Isikoff noted.
The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations, says that in January, Petrocelli donated $2,700, the maximum amount allowable for a contribution to Hillary Clinton's presidential primary campaign. Isikoff had also reported that Petrocelli had been hired by Trump a month earlier, in December 2015. Further, Petrocelli's law firm, O'Melveny & Myers, has given nearly $20,000 to her campaign, Yahoo News reported.
Trump has ranted at Curiel, told the Wall Street Journal that Curiel had "an absolute conflict" in overseeing the Trump U cases, given that he was "of Mexican heritage" and complained about his membership in a Latino lawyers association. He has also since told "Face the Nation's" John Dickerson a Muslim judge might also treat him unfairly.
In response, a succession of Republicans have denounced Trump's remarks. And Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, in a tough re-election fight, even rescinded his endorsement of Trump on Tuesday. Speaker Paul Ryan called his comments the "textbook definition of a racist comment."
Petrocelli has argued many high-profile cases -- he may be best known for winning a multi-million-dollar civil suit against O.J. Simpson for the deaths of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.
In May, Curiel ruled that Trump would go to trial in the lawsuits in November, after election day, but before the late January date that Petrocelli had requested. He has not sought Curiel's recusal in the case -- Yahoo News quoted Petrocelli as saying, "The judge is doing his job....We're not seeking to recuse the judge."
To this point, Trump has not directed any attacks at his own lawyer for throwing his support to Hillary Clinton. Not that he'd have any reason to -- there's been no evidence that Petrocelli is wearing his political preferences into the courtroom.
As he told the Hollywood Reporter in April, Trump "didn't hire me for my political views. He hired me for my legal skills."
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