Former President Donald Trump will not participate in the Republican Party’s first presidential primary debate next week, choosing instead to sit for an interview with Tucker Carlson, according to The New York Times and CNN.
Both outlets reported that Trump had spent the last day telling people close to him about his plans. Both also reported that sources reminded them how Trump is prone to changing his mind.
Trump’s counterprogramming appears likely to siphon eyeballs away from the Aug. 23 Republican National Committee debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which will be aired by the same network that booted Carlson earlier this year: Fox News. Since then, Carlson has been hosting a version of his political commentary show on Twitter.
Looming large over the debate will undoubtedly be Trump’s fourth criminal indictment; he must turn himself in to Georgia authorities on racketeering charges by Aug. 25.
For months, the beleaguered former president has hinted that he would not participate in a debate with his fellow 2024 primary hopefuls, pointing to his far-and-away lead in polling among Republican voters. His competition includes former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley — all of whom trail him significantly in polls.
“As everyone is aware, my Poll numbers, over a ‘wonderful’ field of Republican candidates, are extraordinary,” Trump wrote Thursday evening on Truth Social.
“People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate? I’M YOUR MAN. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
HuffPost reached out to Trump’s camp for comment but did not receive a response.
Igor Bobic contributed to this report.