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Fox News Channel says Donald Trump offered to reverse his plans to skip its GOP presidential debate Thursday if the network donated $5 million to his charity as a "quid pro quo."
"Roger Ailes had three brief conversations with Donald Trump today [Thursday] about possibly appearing at the debate — there were not multiple calls placed by Ailes to Trump," Fox News said in a statement, The Washington Post reports.
The network response came after the Republican front-runner told CNN that he had "many" conversations with Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes in the 48 hours leading up to the debate the The New York Times reports.
"In the course of those conversations," the Fox statement continued, "we acknowledged his concerns about a satirical observation we made in order to quell the attacks on Megyn Kelly, and prevent her from being smeared any further. Furthermore, Trump offered to appear at the debate upon the condition that Fox News contribute $5 million to his charities.
"We explained that was not possible and we could not engage in a quid pro quo, nor could any money change hands for any reason. In the last 48 hours, we’ve kept two issues at the forefront — we would never compromise our journalistic standards and we would always stand by our journalist, Megyn Kelly. We have accomplished those two goals and we are pleased with the outcome. We're very proud to have her on stage as a debate moderator alongside Bret Baier & Chris Wallace."
In his CNN interview and later when he went ahead with his phoney anti-debate event to raise funds for veterans, Trump said Fox News had "apologized" to him for the debate debacle.
"By the time they apologized I said, 'Look, the problem is we now have a big event scheduled,'" Trump told Brianna Keilar on CNN in an interview aboard his private plane on the tarmac at Des Moines International Airport. "Fox could not have been nicer."
He declined to say who from the cable network apologized.
"I don't want to say," Trump said, adding later that "I spoke to the top people there."
Trump said the call occurred because "they very much want me" in the debate.
"They called me just before you walked on the plane," he said. "In all fairness, very nicely. But they want me there."
Trump said that he did not ask Fox to remove Megyn Kelly as one of the debate's co-moderators in the call and pointed to the taunting statement that Fox released Tuesday in response to tweets objecting to Kelly's presence.
"I never once asked that she be removed," he said. "What I didn't like is their public relations statement where they were sort of taunting.
"I didn't think it was appropriate or nice."
The Iowa caucuses are becoming a referendum on Donald Trump. The conversation in the closing days, like the whole campaign, is all about The Donald, especially after the Republican frontrunner declared last night he will boycott on Fox News. debate
-- Several well-known figures on the right are making clear that they prefer Trump over Ted Cruz, who is running neck-and-neck with him in polls of likely caucus-goers. Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of the late television evangelist, and controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio endorsed Trump yesterday. Over the past week, key figures from the establishment wing of the party have subtly tipped the scales in Trump’s favor.
-- Ben Sasse became worried enough about Trump’s lead that he went to Iowa yesterday to speak out against him. The freshman senator from Nebraska, who defeated a rival preferred by the establishment in a 2014 GOP primary, appeared with Cruz last night in Keosauqua and will appear this afternoon with Marco Rubio at a pub in West Des Moines. He’s not going to endorse either of them, and he may appear with a third candidate if his schedule permits, but he’s on the ground to make the case that rallying behind Trump is a very bad idea for the party.
Sasse is perturbed that party elders are making a calculation that Trump could be better in a general election than Cruz. There are too many Republicans in Washington, D.C., who like to cut deals and put points on the board, he complained during a phone interview with The Daily 202 late last night, as he drove around southern Iowa, with spotty cell service: “Of course there are lots of people for whom that’s their crack, but that’s not going to be what makes America great again,” he said.
-- After keeping a low profile for most of his first year in office, Sasse has been raising his visibility. This past weekend, he went to New Hampshire to fill in for Dick Cheney at a state GOP cattle call.night, he gained thousands of new followers by posting a stream of Tweets asking pointed questions. The one that drew the most attention noted Trump’s affairs with married women and asked if he has repented. But the real thrust of the stream of tweets was that Trump does not follow any oaths he takes and would certainly not follow the Constitution if elected president.
The Yale-educated historian, who was president of Midland University before entering the Senate, says Trump is running to be a sort of paternalistic “strong man” and doesn’t understand the essence of the American experiment. “He’s running with this claim that he’ll be the strong man that can take care of everybody,” Sasse said, adding that it’s “ironic” he is nervous to field questions from Fox moderator Megyn Kelly.
Asked about Cruz’s lack of support from other Senate colleagues, Sasse said: “Fundamentally, this is not a student council race.” He added later, “We’re in the midst of a Constitutional crisis.”
-- Sasse's comments speak to the growing sense that this is a watershed moment for the conservative movement. Just like with Barry Goldwater vs. Nelson Rockefeller in 1964 or Ronald Reagan vs. Gerald Ford in 1976, Republican leaders will likely be judged for decades to come on whether they were with Trump (even tacitly) or against him as he marched toward the nomination. Few politicians realize it yet, but no matter what the outcome of the coming primaries, their standing in the movement will be shaped by what they say – or don’t – right now. A rising star like Sasse, joining the conservative movement’s publications of record (National Review and the Weekly Standard) in sounding alarm bells about Trump's bona fides, is positioned to emerge as a thought leader on the right. And, at just 43 and in a safe Senate seat, he could be in the arena for decades.
The two-hour event, hosted by CNN, will be the last chance to see the three Democratic presidential candidates alongside one another before votes are cast.Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Martin O’Malleywill field questions as the primary race has become contentious.
Mr. Sanders has said that Mrs. Clinton lacks enthusiasm (with the implicit contrast being that he has it). Mrs. Clinton has continued presenting herself as a pragmatist. Both packed events into their schedules over the weekend in an effort to demonstrate stamina and excitement.
The candidates found themselves answering questions about Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is considering a presidential run of his own as an independent, with the most likely scenario being if Mr. Sanders and a candidate like Donald J. Trump or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas win their parties’ nominations
A Democratic presidential forum scheduled at the 11th hour will give Hillary Clinton one last chance to make her case to the Iowa voters
CNN and the Iowa Democratic Party announced this week that they’d partner on a candidate forum that will take place Monday night – less than one week before the Iowa caucuses – giving all of the candidates a high-profile setting to make their final pitch to Hawkeye State voters.
Monday's prime-time broadcast days before in a contest headed for a photo finish at least carries the possibility of tipping the scales one way or the other.
“This race is close,” Any high-profile format like this that’s this close to Election Day will have high stakes.”
THE PRESIDENT: This is a good day, because, once again, we’re seeing what’s possible with strong American diplomacy.
As I said in my State of the Union address, ensuring the security of the United States and the safety of our people demands a smart, patient and disciplined approach to the world. That includes our diplomacy with the Islamic Republic of Iran. For decades, our differences with Iran meant that our governments almost never spoke to each other. Ultimately, that did not advance America’s interests. Over the years, Iran moved closer and closer to having the ability to build a nuclear weapon. But from Presidents Franklin Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, the United States has never been afraid to pursue diplomacy with our adversaries. And as President, I decided that a strong, confident America could advance our national security by engaging directly with the Iranian government.
We’ve seen the results. Under the nuclear deal that we, our allies and partners reached with Iran last year, Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb. The region, the United States, and the world will be more secure. As I’ve said many times, the nuclear deal was never intended to resolve all of our differences with Iran. But still, engaging directly with the Iranian government on a sustained basis, for the first time in decades, has created a unique opportunity -- a window -- to try to resolve important issues. And today, I can report progress on a number of fronts.
First, yesterday marked a milestone in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Iran has now fulfilled key commitments under the nuclear deal. And I want to take a moment to explain why this is so important.
Over more than a decade, Iran had moved ahead with its nuclear program, and, before the deal, it had installed nearly 20,000 centrifuges that can enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb. Today, Iran has removed two-thirds of those machines. Before the deal, Iran was steadily increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium -- enough for up to 10 nuclear bombs. Today, more than 98 percent of that stockpile has been shipped out of Iran -- meaning Iran now doesn’t have enough material for even one bomb. Before, Iran was nearing completion of a new reactor capable of producing plutonium for a bomb. Today, the core of that reactor has been pulled out and filled with concrete so it cannot be used again.
Before the deal, the world had relatively little visibility into Iran’s nuclear program. Today, international inspectors are on the ground, and Iran is being subjected to the most comprehensive, intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program. Inspectors will monitor Iran’s key nuclear facilities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For decades to come, inspectors will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain. In other words, if Iran tries to cheat -- if they try to build a bomb covertly -- we will catch them.
So the bottom line is this. Whereas Iran was steadily expanding its nuclear program, we have now cut off every single path that Iran could have used to build a bomb. Whereas it would have taken Iran two to three months to break out with enough material to rush to a bomb, we’ve now extended that breakout time to a year -- and with the world’s unprecedented inspections and access to Iran’s program, we’ll know if Iran ever tries to break out.
Now that Iran’s actions have been verified, it can begin to receive relief from certain nuclear sanctions and gain access to its own money that had been frozen. And perhaps most important of all, we’ve achieved this historic progress through diplomacy, without resorting to another war in the Middle East.
I want to also point out that by working with Iran on this nuclear deal, we were better able to address other issues. When our sailors in the Persian Gulf accidentally strayed into Iranian waters that could have sparked a major international incident. Some folks here in Washington rushed to declare that it was the start of another hostage crisis. Instead, we worked directly with the Iranian government and secured the release of our sailors in less than 24 hours.
This brings me to a second major development -- several Americans unjustly detained by Iran are finally coming home. In some cases, these Americans faced years of continued detention. And I’ve met with some of their families. I’ve seen their anguish, how they ache for their sons and husbands. I gave these families my word -- I made a vow -- that we would do everything in our power to win the release of their loved ones. And we have been tireless. On the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations, our diplomats at the highest level, including Secretary Kerry, used every meeting to push Iran to release our Americans. I did so myself, in my conversation with President Rouhani. After the nuclear deal was completed, the discussions between our governments accelerated. Yesterday, these families finally got the news that they have been waiting for.
Jason Rezaian is coming home. A courageous journalist for The Washington Post, who wrote about the daily lives and hopes of the Iranian people, he’s been held for a year and a half. He embodies the brave spirit that gives life to the freedom of the press. Jason has already been reunited with his wife and mom.
Pastor Saeed Abedini is coming home. Held for three and half years, his unyielding faith has inspired people around the world in the global fight to uphold freedom of religion. Now, Pastor Abedini will return to his church and community in Idaho.
Amir Hekmati is coming home. A former sergeant in the Marine Corps, he’s been held for four and a half years. Today, his parents and sisters are giving thanks in Michigan.
Two other Americans unjustly detained by Iran have also been released -- Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari and Matthew Trevithick, an Iranian -- who was in Iran as a student. Their cases were largely unknown to the world. But when Americans are freed and reunited with their families, that’s something that we can all celebrate.
So I want to thank my national security team -- especially Secretary Kerry; Susan Rice, my National Security Advisor; Brett McGurk; Avril Haines; Ben Rhodes -- our whole team worked tirelessly to bring our Americans home, to get this work done. And I want to thank the Swiss government, which represents our interests in Iran, for their critical assistance.
And meanwhile, Iran has agreed to deepen our coordination as we work to locate Robert Levinson -- missing from Iran for more than eight years. Even as we rejoice in the safe return of others, we will never forget about Bob. Each and every day, but especially today, our hearts are with the Levinson family, and we will not rest until their family is whole again.
In a reciprocal humanitarian gesture, six Iranian–Americans and one Iranian serving sentences or awaiting trial in the United States are being granted clemency. These individuals were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses. They’re civilians, and their release is a one-time gesture to Iran given the unique opportunity offered by this moment and the larger circumstances at play. And it reflects our willingness to engage with Iran to advance our mutual interests, even as we ensure the national security of the United States.
So, nuclear deal implemented. American families reunited. The third piece of this work that we got done this weekend involved the United States and Iran resolving a financial dispute that dated back more than three decades. Since 1981, after our nations severed diplomatic relations, we’ve worked through a international tribunal to resolve various claims between our countries. The United States and Iran are now settling a longstanding Iranian government claim against the United States government. Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought.
For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran. So there was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out. With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well.
Of course, even as we implement the nuclear deal and welcome our Americans home, we recognize that there remain profound differences between the United States and Iran. We remain steadfast in opposing Iran’s destabilizing behavior elsewhere, including its threats against Israel and our Gulf partners, and its support for violent proxies in places like Syria and Yemen. We still have sanctions on Iran for its violations of human rights, for its support of terrorism, and for its ballistic missile program. And we will continue to enforce these sanctions, vigorously. Iran’s recent missile test, for example, was a violation of its international obligations. And as a result, the United States is imposing sanctions on individuals and companies working to advance Iran’s ballistic missile program. And we are going to remain vigilant about it. We're not going to waver in the defense of our security or that of our allies and partners.
But I do want to once again speak directly to the Iranian people. Yours is a great civilization, with a vibrant culture that has so much to contribute to the world -- in commerce, and in science and the arts. For decades, your government’s threats and actions to destabilize your region have isolated Iran from much of the world. And now our governments are talking with one another. Following the nuclear deal, you -- especially young Iranians -- have the opportunity to begin building new ties with the world. We have a rare chance to pursue a new path -- a different, better future that delivers progress for both our peoples and the wider world. That’s the opportunity before the Iranian people. We need to take advantage of that.
And to my fellow Americans, today, we’re united in welcoming home sons and husbands and brothers who, in lonely prison cells, have endured an absolute nightmare. But they never gave in and they never gave up. At long last, they can stand tall and breathe deep the fresh air of freedom.
As a nation, we face real challenges, around the world and here at home. Many of them will not be resolved quickly or easily. But today’s progress -- Americans coming home, an Iran that has rolled back its nuclear program and accepted unprecedented monitoring of that program -- these things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom; with courage and resolve and patience. America can do -- and has done -- big things when we work together. We can leave this world and make it safer and more secure for our children and our grandchildren for generations to come.
I want to thank once again Secretary Kerry; our entire national security team, led by Susan Rice. I'm grateful for all the assistance that we received from our allies and partners. And I am hopeful that this signals the opportunity at least for Iran to work more cooperatively with nations around the world to advance their interests and the interests of people who are looking for peace and security for their families.
Thank you so much. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
in 2002 I was at a Press Conference in West Palm Beach Florida, Senator Bob Graham was standing next to me and we talked for a few minutes before Janet Reno And Bill McBride were to take the Stage, We talked about the Intelligence Committee in the Senate, that Senator Graham was the chair of, Senator Graham told me, he could never publicly comment on what he was advised because the GW Bush administration had silenced him, Senator Graham would just say, all of the terrorism coming out of the middle east had Saudi Arabia's fingerprints all over it.