The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump if his judge attack was racist — then followed up 23 times

Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump if his judge attack was racist, then followed up 23 times. (Video: Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

There's persistent ... and then there's Jake Tapper.

The CNN anchor posed the following question to Donald Trump on Friday:

Let me ask you about comments you made about the judge in the Trump University case. You said that you thought it was a conflict of interest that he was the judge because he is of Mexican heritage, even though he is from Indiana. Hillary Clinton said that that is a racist attack on a federal judge.

Actually, Tapper didn't quite get to form a question. Trump interjected to talk about Clinton's emails. So Tapper tried to steer the conversation back to whether Trump's complaint about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel was racist. Trump deflected again. Tapper tried again. And again.

Donald Trump’s attack on ‘Mexican’ judge is so bad, even Kayleigh McEnany can’t defend it

In all, Tapper made an astounding 23 follow-up attempts. This moment right here — with this look on Tapper's face — perfectly encapsulates the exchange.

Tapper's relentlessness ultimately paid off. He finally got a straight answer out of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

TAPPER: If you are saying he cannot do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?
TRUMP: No, I don't think so at all.

Tapper presumably had other subjects he would have liked to get to. Trump likely figured as much and assumed he could stall long enough for his interviewer to move on. That's usually how it goes.

But Tapper refused to drop the subject until Trump offered a yes-or-no answer. It was clearly an exhausting effort. But it showed that even Donald J. Trump can be worn down by a journalist who never gives up.

Donald Trump says he could settle the court case involving Trump University, but that he doesn't want to "because I'm a man of principle." (Video: Reuters)