NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump traded pleasantries Thursday in their first exchange since igniting a feud last summer then later had a tough back-and-forth over a legal case surrounding the Trump University educational venture.
They clashed last summer during the first presidential debate, leaving Trump so steamed he attacked Kelly on social media and skipped a January debate in Iowa because Fox wouldn’t remove Kelly as a moderator. Thursday night’s 11th GOP debate in Detroit was their first time together on TV since then.
Fellow moderator Chris Wallace was the first Fox personality to question Trump. It wasn’t until 30 minutes had gone by that Kelly addressed him.
“Hi! How are you doing?” Kelly began.
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Trump replied that it was nice to be with her and that “you’re looking well.”
She asked about reports that Trump had made off-the-record comments to The New York Times suggesting he may be more flexible in his immigration policies than he had been saying publicly.
Trump said he wouldn’t reveal what he had said to the Times, but that he would be “not very flexible” in his policies.
Kelly later used video of three separate instances where Trump has been caught on the campaign trail saying one thing — on issues surrounding Afghanistan, Syrian refugees and whether former President George W. Bush had lied about the Iraq War — then later said something different.
“One of the things that people love about you is that they believe you tell it like it is,” Kelly said. “But time and time again in this campaign, you have actually told the voters one thing only to reverse yourself in weeks or even sometimes days.”
Trump explained that the changes in the Syrian example came because he learned more information that changed his point of view.
“I have never seen a successful person that doesn’t have some degree of flexibility,” he said.
Their most heated moment came after Marco Rubio brought up an ongoing lawsuit against Trump brought by former students in Trump University, and Kelly consulted legal papers to give people more details. She said thousands of plaintiffs in the case alleged that they were fleeced by Trump, and she read a U.S. Court of Appeals opinion that compared the aggrieved students to victims of Bernard Madoff’s financial scam.
“Oh, give me a break,” Trump retorted. He said that the vast majority of people who took the courses said in later evaluations that they were satisfied.
Kelly read a portion of the court ruling that said victims “often sing the praises of their victimizers until the moment they realize they have been fleeced.”
“You know what?” Trump said. “Let’s see what happens in court.”
Shortly after the debate, Trump posted on Twitter a copy of a Better Business Bureau report on Trump University.
Trump’s most contentious exchange with a Fox personality during the debate came not with Kelly, but with Wallace, who used government statistics to challenge Trump’s claims of savings he would accomplish to reduce the federal deficit.
Follow David Bauder at twitter.com/dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder