Republican Donald Trump says 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, with House Speaker Paul Ryan saying Tuesday that they are "the textbook definition of racist comments." Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois said Trump's comments are un-American and he cannot support the presumptive presidential nominee.
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.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only black Republican senator, called Trump's comments on the judge "racially toxic" yet said, "He needs to get onto the general election and we need to win."
"From what I know about Trump, he's not a racist. But he does make a lot of outrageous statements. And I think he ought to tone it down a little bit," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, while calling on the media to give Trump "leeway" for what he called a "mistake."