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
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
"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 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."
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