Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Burlington, Iowa. (Photo credit: Dave Davidson - Prezography.com)
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Burlington, Iowa.
Photo credit: Dave Davidson (Prezography.com)
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Burlington, Iowa. (Photo credit: Dave Davidson - Prezography.com)
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Burlington, Iowa.
Photo credit: Dave Davidson (Prezography.com)

Buzzfeed News reported on Monday that during an off-the-record discussion with the New York Times editorial board Donald Trump said his immigration views were more flexible than how he campaigns. This led to U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to call on the New York Times to release the transcript and recording of that conversation.

The Cruz campaign sent out an additional statement:

“The possibility that Trump doesn’t believe a word he says, especially on critical issues like immigration and the border, is troubling,” said Alice Stewart, Cruz Communications Director. “His entire campaign is centered on expanding and enforcing our immigration laws, and now we find out it’s possible he doesn’t mean a word of it and is just using it for ‘strategic purposes.’ Trump should demand the New York Times release the tapes tonight before Republican voters go to the polls tomorrow.
“If he doesn’t, voters have to ask themselves, ‘what is Donald Trump hiding?’ It’s a disturbing pattern. He won’t release his tax returns. He won’t confirm or deny he’s donated to extreme left-wing organizations like Planned Parenthood. When he gets caught taking a different position, he lies. What’s he hiding? Trump should immediately come clean with the voters about who he is, what he’s done, what he really believes, and what’s on those tapes.”
Rubio said:
What’s his famous issue? He is going to build a wall and be tough on Mexico, but he doesn’t tell you that he hires illegal immigrants to work on Trump Towers. He doesn’t tell you about he gave an interview toThe New York Times. He met with their editorial board and apparently told them what he really believes about immigration, what sounds like what he told them was different than what he is telling you but it was off the record. So now The New York Times can’t release the audio of that interview. Donald Trump can fix that today. Donald Trump should ask The New York Times to release the audio of his interview with him so we can see exactly what it is he truly believes about this issue that he has made the cornerstone of his campaign.

In defense of Trump here, the speculation of what is on the alleged recording and transcript may be far worse than the reality. Cruz dealt with a similar story. It was floated out there and the speculation was actually worse than what the story ended up being.

While it is off-the-record it may be better for Trump to give his blessing that it be released than allow the speculation to continue.

He discussed the story with Sean Hannity on Fox News on Monday night.

Hannity: The New York Times is claiming today that they had an off-the-record conservation with you in January. Off-the-record, by the way, and they end up leaking it – typical media.

Trump: The most dishonest media group, that is also failing too, I call it the failing New York Times. It is failing so badly that it is dying, but we did. We had a board meeting that was off-the-record and then all of a sudden they leak it and it is all over the place.

Hannity: They said, oh it’s negotiable on the wall.

Trump: Everything, by the way, it is negotiable. Things are negotiable. I’ll be honest with you. I’ll make the wall two feet shorter or something. Everything is negotiable.

Hannity: It’s not negotiable about building it.

Trump: I actually said… Building it? No that’s not negotiable.

Hannity: It’s not negotiable… Would it be negotiable about the eleven million? Let some people stay if they say register by a certain period of time?

Trump: Look, I’ve always said that we have some good people over here. They’re going to go out, but we are going to 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. We need a wall.

After a discussion about New Hampshire’s heroin epidemic that stems from a porous southern border Trump said. “Look there’s always going to be some negotiation whether the wall is 50 feet tall or 40 feet tall.”

Trump’s statement “everything is negotiable” is concerning if applied broadly. Whether that mentality is just for the minutia of how things get done or a broader policy agenda will remain to be seen. Those discussing the New York Times meeting don’t seem to think so, and since the New York Times refuses to release the recording we’ll never know.

I have to wonder if it did come out Trump really was softer on immigration policy that he lets on if it would even matter to his supporters.

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