During a Monday conference call with supporters, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee overruled a directive sent out by his own campaign.
An embattled Donald Trump urgently rallied his most visible supporters to defend his attacks on a federal judge’s Mexican ancestry during a conference call on Monday in which he ordered them to question the judge’s credibility and impugn reporters as racists.
“We will overcome,” Trump said, according to two supporters who were on the call and requested anonymity to share their notes with Bloomberg Politics. “And I’ve always won and I’m going to continue to win. And that’s the way it is.”
There was no mention of apologizing or backing away from his widely criticized remarks about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing cases against the Trump University real-estate program.
When former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to inform Trump that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit in an e-mail on Sunday, Trump repeatedly demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff.
“Take that order and throw it the hell out,” Trump said.
Told the memo was sent by Erica Freeman, a staffer who circulates information to surrogates, Trump said he didn’t know her. He openly questioned how the campaign could defend itself if supporters weren’t allowed to talk.
“Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”
Brewer, who was on the call with prominent Republicans like Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, interjected again. “You all better get on the page,” she told him.
In response, Trump said that he aspired to hold regular calls with surrogates in order to coordinate the campaign’s message, a role usually reserved for lower ranking staffers than the nominee himself.
The e-mailed memo, sent by Freeman on Sunday, was cc’d to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; Hope Hicks, Trump’s top communications staffer; and Rick Gates, a top aide to campaign chairman Paul Manafort. It informed surrogates that “they’re not authorized to discuss matters concerning the Trump Organization including corporate news such as the Trump University case.”
“The best possible response is ‘the case will be tried in the courtroom in front of a jury—not in the media,’” according to the e-mail, obtained by Bloomberg Politics.
Hicks declined to address the specifics of the conversation with surrogates.
“The call was scheduled in order for Mr. Trump to thank his supporters and congratulate everyone as the primaries officially come to an end,” Hicks told Bloomberg Politics. “Many topics were discussed and it was a productive call for all parties.”
Trump’s five weeks as the presumptive nominee have been marked by several missteps: A refusal to release his tax returns, confusion among donors over which super-PAC to give money, audio of him using a pseudonym to act as his own publicist, failing to donate to veterans groups as promised until pressed by the media.
But the most incendiary controversy has been his handling of Trump University.
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