You’re all fired! Donald Trump released a scathing statement via Twitter late Tuesday, January 26, about boycotting the upcoming Fox News–hosted Republican presidential debate on January 28.
Trump’s boycott comes down to his contentious relationship with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who is one of the debate’s moderators. On Monday, January 25, the GOP presidential hopeful tweeted: “Fox will drop Kelly if it means no Trump. Nobody will watch w/o Trump.” (The qualifying candidates for Thursday’s debate were announced on Tuesday and include Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul.)
Fox News, however, said the show will go on, regardless of whether Trump, 69, shows up — which then prompted the real estate mogul to release another statement. In it, he wrote that instead of participating in the debate, he plans to “host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politicians.”
“Mr Trump doesn’t play games,” his campaign said in the statement, which also called out Fox News head Roger Ailes, as well as “the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2016
Kelly, 45, addressed his boycott on her show, The Kelly File. “I’ll be there,” she told viewers on Tuesday. “The debate will go on, with or without Mr. Trump.”
Fox News also spoke out about the drama in a statement to Us Weekly late Tuesday night. “As many of our viewers know, Fox News is hosting a sanctioned debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday night, three days before the first votes of the 2016 election are cast in the Iowa caucus,” a rep for the network told Us. “Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented. We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing — Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage. Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats, including the one leveled by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski toward Megyn Kelly. In a call on Saturday with a Fox News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.’ Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so. We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees. Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on Fox News & Fox Business, but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.”
Lewandowski has not addressed the threat claims directly. However he retweeted one follower, who wrote: “@CLewandowski_ didn’t threaten @megynkelly. She did have a rough time b4…and an 11 day vacation afterward.”
The back-and-forth between Trump and the network, meanwhile, continued on Wednesday morning. “I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!” he tweeted to his 5.85 million followers. “The statement put out yesterday by @FoxNews was a disgrace to good broadcasting and journalism. Who would ever say something so nasty & dumb.”
Amid the ongoing feud, one person close to Trump has remained silent about the candidate’s headline-making statements — until now. In an exclusive new interview with Us Weekly, the real estate mogul’s wife, Melania Trump, says that while she’s been mostly absent from the campaign trail, she’s political behind closed doors. “I give him ideas, and I give him my opinions,” the former model, 45, tells Us. “Some stuff he listens to.”
Watch Us Weekly‘s exclusive videos above, and pick up her full Q&A in the latest issue, on stands now.