Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Mitt Romney on Monday called for Donald Trump and the New York Times to release tape of an off-the-record interview the billionaire businessman conducted with the newspaper on his immigration views.
Their comments came after BuzzFeed News revealed The Times is sitting on tape of Trump that some staffers believe could deal a massive blow to the candidate's campaign for president. The interview conducted on Jan. 5 included an off-the-record segment in which sources said Trump revealed a degree of flexibility in his otherwise hardline stance on immigration.
The New York Times would not comment on the interview.
Speaking to reporters in San Antonio, Texas, Cruz called for the tape to be made public before Super Tuesday.
"Apparently there is a secret tape that the New York Times editorial board has of Donald Trump saying that he doesn't believe what he's saying on immigration, saying that all of his promises to secure the border are not real and if he's president he doesn't intend to do what he said," Cruz said. "I call on Donald: ask the New York Times to release the tape and do so today before the Super Tuesday primary."
The Texas senator, who is trailing Trump in the polls despite an early win in Iowa, said releasing the tapes would clear up whether, in fact, Trump made the comments.
"If Donald didn't say that to the New York Times then he deserves to have that cleared up and releasing the tape can clear it up," Cruz said.
"The alternative is that it is true."
After Cruz's comments, Rubio also called on Trump to push for the tape to be released.
"It sounds like what he told [the New York Times] is different from what he is telling you," Rubio told supporters in Conway, Arkansas. "Donald Trump should ask the New York Times to release the audio of his interview with them so we can see exactly what it is he truly believes about this issue which he has made the cornerstone of his campaign."
Later in the day, Romney also joined the fray, using the hashtag #WhatIsHeHiding on Twitter.
It was just the latest in a series of salvos the former Republican presidential nominee has launched at Trump in recent days.
BuzzFeed News has contacted the Trump campaign for comment.
On Monday night, Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Trump about whether the border wall and deportations were "negotiable."
Although Trump said "things are negotiable," he said building the wall isn't, and that people need to "go out" and then shifted away from the specific topic:
HANNITY: The New York Times is claiming today that they had an off-the-record conversation with you in january — off the record by the way, and now they’re leaking it, typical media.
TRUMP: The most dishonest media group and it’s also failing. I call it the failing New York Times. They’re just doing so badly. It’s dying. But I did. We had a board meeting. Off the record. All of the sudden, they leak it — it’s all the over the place.
HANNITY: They said — you’re — it's negotiable on the law.
TRUMP: Everything. By the way, it is negotiable. Things are negotiable. I’ll be honest with you, I'll make it two feet shorter or something. I mean everything’s negotiable.
HANNITY: It's not negotiable about building it.
TRUMP: No. Building it? Not negotiable.
HANNITY: It’s not negotiable about — would it be negotiable about the 11 million, maybe let some people stay if they register in a period of time?
TRUMP: I would say this. Look. I have always said we have good people over here and they're going to go out, but we will work out some system that's fair, but we have a country or we don't. We need a border. We need a wall. We need a wall. You know, I won New Hampshire. they have a tremendous heroin problem. I promised the people of New Hampshire we'll stop that heroin from coming in. It’s a very hard thing to kick. They have tremendous — we'll work on the people that have the habit already and try and get them better. We got to try to get them better.
HANNITY: It's bad.
TRUMP: Of all the places, New Hampshire. It’s like the first question I get all the time, the heroin problem, comes over the southern border. Not going to happen anymore. It’s not going to happen anymore. But there's always going to be some negotiation. Whether it's 50 feet tall or 40 feet tall and one of the things, one of the reporters said to me, well, what happens, you know, Vincente Fox made this statement, how do you respond? It was an arrogant, terrible, horrible statement. And I said, here's how I respond: The wall just got 10 feet higher. And I meant it. He was incensed. And then Joe Biden goes and apologizes. Look. Mexico's great. And the people are great because I have many, many Mexicans that—
HANNITY: Crazy Uncle Joe.
TRUMP: Joe Biden goes and apologizes for what? We have right now a $58 billion trade deficit with Mexico. That's why the wall gets built, by the way. That's why they're going to pay for it. The wall is going to cost — listen to this.
HANNITY: Will the name Trump be on it?
TRUMP: Only if it's beautiful.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.