Megyn Kelly criticized “pundits” calling for the judge in the Trump U. case to step down, stating emphatically “that is not the way our system works.” Kelly went on to state that “any litigant who moved to disqualify a judge based on his heritage would actually sanctioned, punished, by an court and it’s happened in the past. Rightfully.” Kelly’s critique came roughly an hour after Fox News host Bill O’Reilly called on the judge to recuse himself from the Trump U. case. From the June 6 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Good evening everyone. I'm Megyn Kelly. Donald Trump's attacks on the judge hearing the fraud case against his Trump University is where we begin tonight. Trump University was a school Trump founded promising students how to get rich selling real estate. Many students were very happy with what they got but thousands of others were not. They went on online, they wrote to the Better Business Bureau, and they filed individual lawsuits. Then they filed a class action lawsuit alleging that they were bilked out of their hard earned money and their retirement savings. These people were cops, vets, retirees; not rich people. Mr. Trump has tried repeatedly to get this case dismissed. He has been unsuccessful. Some have suggested that there's a political component to this case because the law firm representing the plaintiffs, one of them, has paid Bill and Hillary Clinton for speeches. However, the case against Trump University was filed in April 2010, long before Trump was a politician and even a full year before he demanded to see President Obama's birth certificate. Some argue that Trump is right to be indignant that one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs, not the plaintiffs themselves, not even the judge have supported the Democrats, that the law firm has. But a law firm can have any political leanings it wants. The plaintiff's law firm is not expected to love the defendant. The relevant question is whether the judge, and the trier of fact, can be fair. The judge here, Gonzalo Curiel, has been on the case for three years. He's issued several rulings in favor of Mr. Trump but some big rulings against him. Trump unhappy with the losses, now alleges this judge is biased against him because Judge Curiel, born in Indiana, is of Mexican descent.
Now even some pundits are demanding that Judge Curiel step down to eliminate doubts as to his motivations, but that is not the way our system works. Judges must indeed avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest, but litigants do not get to create that appearance by vocally complaining about the judge. Any litigant who moved to disqualify a judge based on his heritage would be actually sanctioned -- punished -- by any court and it's happened in the past, rightfully. Moreover if a litigant making a stink about a judge necessarily resulted in a conflict that would force a judge to step down, it would lead to chaos in our court system. It would prejudice the other party who’s not complaining or taking their licks. And it would lead to more parties throwing fits in order to bounce judges off the case whose rulings they do not like. Simply put this is not the way our system was designed to work.
And today with all this controversy coming to a head, Bloomberg dropped a bombshell report quoting sources who are on a phone call with Mr. Trump saying the candidate called on supporters to join him in questioning the judge's credibility and went on to ask them to also attack the reporters who asked about it.