Former President Donald J. Trump plans to stage the first Republican primary debate on Wednesday, sitting down for an online interview with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, who briefed many on the matter.
In the last 24 hours, Mr. Trump told people close to him that he had made up his mind and would skip the debate in Milwaukee.
Mr. Trump is notoriously mercurial, and left himself open to changing his mind in a vague post on his website Truth Social on Thursday. He wrote that he polled more than his rivals and added, “Reagan didn’t do that, and neither did anyone else. People know my record is one of the best records ever, so why should I argue?”
For weeks, the former president has been quizzing aides, aides and rally crowds about what he should do. Until earlier this week, Mr. Trump was giving people a sense of what to expect with a last-minute surprise appearance on Wednesday.
However, people close to him have said for months that he is unlikely to participate in the first two Republican National Committee-sponsored debates. Mr. to avoid the first debate of the presidential candidate race. Trump’s apparent decision is a major embarrassment to both the RNC and Fox News, which hosts the event.
Mr. The exact time and location of the interview with Carlson remains unclear, but if it goes ahead as currently planned, the debate-night counterprogramming would serve as an act of apparent hostility.
Rona McDaniel, chairwoman of the RNC, asked Mr. has personally urged Trump, visiting his private club in Bedminster, NJ last month to meet him in person.
Fox News Mr. Not only with Trump, Mr. There is also a public battle with Carlson, who is still under contract and being paid by Fox even though his show is on the air. Mr. Fox Carlson later sent a cease and desist letter Aired a series of videos At X, the site formerly known as Twitter. Mr. The Trump campaign’s conversations with Carlson — and the possibility of counterprogramming — were previously reported by multiple news outlets.
Spokespeople for the Trump campaign, the RNC and Fox News did not immediately respond to requests for comment. For requests for comment, Mr. Carlson also did not respond.
Fox News executives and personalities have been urging the former president to participate in the debate, both publicly and privately. But Mr. Trump has been openly attacking Fox and has personally expressed his hostility to Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the Fox Corporation.
Even so, Mr. Trump has personally given top executives and anchors at Fox the impression that he is open to and seriously considering their requests.
Earlier this month, Mr. Trump hosted a dinner for Fox News chairman Jay Wallace and the network’s chief executive Suzanne Scott, who had traveled to Bedminster to attend the debate. They left the dinner believing there was a good chance he would show up, according to two people familiar with the dinner.
Mr. to avoid debate. Trump’s apparent decision comes in the wake of his fourth impeachment. The latest indictment came from the Fulton County, Ga., district attorney, Mr. Trump has been accused of a criminal conspiracy to sabotage the transition of power after losing the state’s 2020 election.