Donald Trump took fire during the Republican debate Thursday night for his refusal to release the transcripts of a January interview with The New York Times.
Allegedly, Trump expresses “flexibility” on his hardline immigration stance during the interview, something that could harm his bombastic far-right image.
“Did you tell [the New York Times], specifically, that you are flexible when it comes to your deportation plan?” asked Megyn Kelly, one of the debate’s moderators.
Trump did not deny the possibility that “flexibility” was something he may have discussed.
“I would never release off-the-record conversations. I don’t think it’s fair, frankly, to do that to anybody,” Trump said.
Trump went on to claim that an “off the record” interview was something that was sacrosanct.
“These three gentlemen have gone off the record many times with reporters and I think they want to honor it and I would always honor that,” Trump said, referring to his Republican contenders.
Trying to deflect his softening on the immigration issue, Trump pointed out that give and take was always a part of any negotiation and that no position is absolute.
“I will say though, in terms of immigration and almost anything else, there always has to be some, you know, tug-and-pull and deal,” Trump said.
Marco Rubio attacked Trump on his stance on “off the record” interviews and pushed him to release what he really said.
“First of all, let me say on the issue of the off-the-record, that’s not up to the New York Times. That’s up to you, Donald. If tonight you tell the New York Times to release the audio, they will do it and we can exactly see what your true views are on immigration,” Rubio said.
The New York Times concurred with Rubio, and said that they have no problem with releasing the transcript from the Jan. 5 meeting, if Trump chooses to do so.
“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,” said Andrew Rosenthal, The New York Times‘ editorial page editor.
[The Washington Free Beacon] [Buzzfeed]