Republican nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump says that his attacks on the judge handling the Trump University case have been "misconstrued."
Trump said in a lengthy statement Tuesday afternoon that "it is unfortunate" his comments "have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage."
Trump has complained repeatedly that federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel is biased against him and cited his Mexican heritage. Curiel was born in the U.S.
His comments have sparked a backlash among members of the Republican Party, House Speaker Paul Ryan saying Tuesday that they are "the textbook definition of racist comments."
Trump said in his statement, "I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial," but said that he feels justified to question whether he is receiving a fair trial based on the ruling.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois says Trump's comments about a U.S. federal judge of Mexican heritage are un-American and he cannot support the presumptive presidential nominee.
This is a reversal for Kirk, one of the more endangered GOP incumbents, who had said recently he would support Trump.
In a statement Tuesday, Kirk said that Trump's "belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American."
Kirk said he was hoping the rhetoric would tone down. Instead, Trump's comments along with past attacks on Hispanics, women and "the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party's nominee" regardless of the impact on his own candidacy.
The senator added that he has concluded Trump is not fit to be commander-in-chief and oversee thousands of nuclear weapons.