A New York Times columnist offered her analysis of Donald Trump after a recent interview he did with the left-leaning paper. Her opinion prompted his rivals to demand the release of off-the-record audio that allegedly calls into question the businessman’s public views on immigration.
All just in time for Super Tuesday. What a coincidence.
In the interest of the voting public’s right to know, Republican presidential rivals are calling upon the front-runner to instruct the Times to release either the tape or a transcript of the interview. The meeting with the Times’ editorial staff took place on January 5, along with other candidates, to pitch for the newspaper’s endorsement, and included some off-the-record statements.
The story offers no evidence about what Trump actually said, but Trump told Fox News, “We had a board meeting. It was off the record. All of a sudden they leak it, it’s all over the place.”
“Everything — by the way, it is negotiable. Things are negotiable, I’ll be honest with you, you know I make the wall two feet shorter or something. I mean everything is negotiable,” Trump said of building the wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, a key plank of his campaign.
Trump clarified that “building it (the wall),” however, is not negotiable.
Asked on Fox News whether his plan to deport all estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. was negotiable, Trump also suggested some leeway on that position.
“I would say this: I’ve always said we have some good people over here. They are going to go out. But we will work out some system that is fair, but we either have a country or we don’t. We need a border. We need a wall,” Trump said. “There’s always gotta be some negotiation.”
New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who was present during the Trump interview, engaged in a bit of speculation in her column Saturday.
“The most optimistic analysis of Trump as a presidential candidate is that he just doesn’t believe in positions, except the ones you adopt for strategic purposes when you’re making a deal,” she wrote. “So you obviously can’t explain how you’re going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, because it’s going to be the first bid in some future monster negotiation session.”
The Times has already released a portion of Trump’s off-the-record statements following a dispute over his suggestion that Chinese goods be subject to tariffs. However, the publication is unwilling to release any other portion of those statements made off the record absent Trump’s consent.
“If [Trump] wants to call up and ask us to release this transcript, he’s free to do that and then we can decide what we would do,” Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal told BuzzFeed.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida have both called upon Trump to instruct the Times to release the recording.
“Apparently there is a secret tape that The New York Times editorial board has of Donald Trump saying that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying on immigration, saying that all of his promises to secure the border are not real and if he’s president he doesn’t intend to do what he said,” Cruz said in a video he posted on Twitter.
“I call on Donald: ask the New York Times to release the tape and do so today before the Super Tuesday primary.”
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 29, 2016
Rubio also called upon Trump to release the tape.
“It sounds like what he told [the New York Times] is different from what he is telling you,” Rubio told supporters in Conway, Arkansas, according to BuzzFeed. “Donald Trump should ask the New York Times to release the audio of his interview with them so we can see exactly what it is he truly believes about this issue which he has made the cornerstone of his campaign.”
Mitt Romney previously called upon Trump to release his tax records from the last few years, and suggested that they could also contain a bombshell detrimental to Trump’s campaign.