Despite all the continued admiration lavished upon Donald Trump for his tough-talk and no-nonsense approach to the dysfunctional nature of American politics, there are many in conservative circles who agree with many of his positions, but doubt the billionaire’s sincerity.
For decades, Trump will readily admit, he has played both sides of the political aisle to advance his business goals- a prudent move that is practically a necessity, he often argues.
However, when pressed on significant political issues, he has seemingly flip-flopped on a wide range of issues. From birther claims to his stance on pro-life issues, Trump has had little difficulty seemingly changing his positions to suit his ambitions.
When the Ted Cruz Campaign called Mr. Trump out for his switch on abortion, using a clip of Trump speaking during an interview, the Trump Campaign lobbed a threatening cease and desist order to pull the ad and threatened legal action for libel.
The Cruz Campaign, however, laughed at the notion that a candidate’s own words could be considered libel and promised to run the ad more frequently as a result of Trump’s petulant move. The rebuttal given to Trump’s lawyers offered numerous examples to highlight Trump’s not-so-distant flip-flop on the issue, citing his support for pro-abortion candidates as recently as 2014.
Whatever his missteps with conservatives, however, Trump has always been consistently anti-illegal immigration, right?
According to reports emerging concerning a recording taken during a meeting with the New York Times, Trump may be saying one thing and planning on another in regards to immigration.
Liberal-leaning site Buzzfeed has reported that the New York Times is in possession of a recording of Trump articulating his viewpoint on immigration that might lead voters to believe that he is actually soft on the issue.
The recording, however, was taken during an off-the-record portion of a meeting with the editorial staff and thus, it is a major breach of journalistic ethics for the Times to release the recording. In truth, it is further a breach of journalistic ethics to even remotely reference the content of the off-the-record portion of the meeting.
On Tuesday, January 5th, 2016, Trump attended a meeting with the editorial staff of the New York Times, a traditional encounter where candidates make a pitch for the paper’s endorsement.
Though some of the meeting was on-the-record, including a discussion about the imbalance of trade agreements with China, the portion concerning his immigration policies was not.
On Saturday, columnist Gail Collins, who attended the meeting with editor-in-chief Dean Baquet, hinted at the substance of the off-the-record discussion in a column. She wrote:
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. 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.
Buzzfeed has maintained that sources familiar with the recording have claimed that Collins’ speculation that Trump may use the issue as a political bargaining chip is more than mere speculation, but a thinly-veiled reference to the content of the recording.
Though one should note the concerted use of the work “undocumented” instead of the appropriate label of “illegal,” one should also consider the use of the “11 million” figure which is not even remotely close to the number of illegals in the U.S. and which has been used for the last twenty years, indicating the belief that the amount of illegal immigrants have not seemed to increase since the mid-1990’s.
The Times has refused to discuss the recording- but appears to not have yet disciplined Ms. Collins for her coy circumvention of journalistic ethics. They have maintained that if Mr. Trump contacted them and asked them to release the recording, they would then be forced to consider whether to release it. As it stands right now, off-the-record must remain off-the-record if the Grey Lady ever wishes to solicit confidential information ever again.
Without hearing the recording or reading the transcript of the encounter, it would be wrong to presume anything about what Trump may or may not have said. That is, precisely, what “off-the-record” means.
By hinting of a possible willingness on Trump’s part to flip-flop on this key issue and use it as a bargaining position, Ms. Collins has violated the integrity of the once-prestigious newspaper and placed a shadow of a doubt upon Mr. Trump’s stance that places a burden on the candidate to either relent and allow an off-the-record encounter be published or otherwise appear to be hiding something by simply abiding by the already-agreed-upon agreement with the New York Times to keep it confidential.
Whether Trump believes the positions he spouts at conservative crowds or whether he is simply saying the “right” things in order to get elected is a decision for every Republican voter to make for themselves. Throughout the race, Trump has been labeled a flip-flopper on key issues several times and when encountered with such accusations, he has largely responded by calling rivals liars.
This wrath has largely been pointed towards Sen. Ted Cruz , the candidate most-threatening to a Trump presidency and a candidate who has maintained a solidly and consistently conservative positioning on virtually every relevant political issue of the day.