After being alerted of his indictment, former President Donald Trump privately dined with Fox News president Jay Wallace and chief executive Suzanne Scott, as they attempted to make an appeal to secure his participation in the network’s upcoming debate, according to The New York Times.
Trump was indicted on charges of interfering in the 2020 Election on Tuesday, marking the third criminal case brought against the current Republican presidential frontrunner. The indictment detailed alleged federal crimes committed by Trump related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, among other instances of conspiracy and obstruction.
The dinner was held in a private room at the former president’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and was scheduled prior to the bombshell indictment news, at the request of Fox News, the report said.
According to Rhe New York Times, “Fox executives made a soft appeal,” for Trump to attend the debate, “telling the former president that he excels on the center stage and that it presents an opportunity for him to show off his debate skills.”
Fox News will host the first Republican primary debate of the 2024 presidential cycle, set for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee. However, the network’s efforts to convince Trump to participate have not yet been successful. Trump’s commitment to attending the debate would likely guarantee a significant amount of additional viewers, something Fox News executives are certainly interested in.
Fox News anchor Bret Baier will be cohosting the upcoming debate with Martha MacCallum, which seems to be a point of contention for the former president. Trump has publicly attacked Baier multiple times, most recently for his interview with Florida Gov. and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis. According to The New York Times, Trump “resurfaced the complaint” about Baier at dinner on Tuesday.
Trump sent them home without a confirmation of his participation. However, he said he would “keep an open mind” about the debate. According to the report, Fox News host Sean Hannity was also supposed to be in attendance at the private dinner but could not make it due to scheduling conflicts with his 9 p.m. show.
Meanwhile, Fox primetime anchor Jesse Watters questioned the legitimacy of the indictment on-air, while continuing to embrace the conspiracy that widespread fraud influenced the election result in 2020.
“How do they know that he knew that there was no fraud,” Watters said. “If this goes to trial are we going to now have to go back and find fraud in the 2020 election?”