Donald Trump on Monday did not refute a report claiming he told The New York Times editorial board in an off-the-record meeting that his immigration views are in fact more flexible than he has made them seem throughout his presidential campaign.
“Everything is negotiable,” Trump said Monday on Fox News, responding to a question about whether the report, which undermines Trump’s hardline stance on immigration, was accurate.
BuzzFeed News reported Monday that Trump’s remarks to the Times “called into question whether he would stand by his own immigration views.”
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.”
Trump rival Sen. Ted Cruz seized on the news story Monday and called on Trump to authorize the release of the full interview he gave to The New York Times editorial board.
“I call on Donald, ask The New York Times to release the tape and do so today before the Super Tuesday primaries,” Cruz told reporters, referring to the recording as a “secret tape.”
Cruz, speaking to reporters in San Antonio the day before Super Tuesday, repeatedly attacked Trump’s record on immigration. The Texas senator said it was in the public interest for the editorial board’s recording to be released.
“Donald Trump’s record on immigration is terrible,” Cruz said.
Sen. Marco Rubio echoed Cruz’s call for Trump to ask the paper to make the comment’s public during a campaign event in Conway, Arkansas.
The Trump campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment asking if Trump would authorize the transcript’s release.
New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy says the paper has no further comment.
CNN’s Dylan Byers contributed to this report.