(CNN) — Trump finally ventured out again Thursday night, appearing on CNN for the first time in more than two months. It didn’t go very well. It went so not well, in fact, that you have to wonder whether his campaign will decide it’s best to dodge the likes of Anderson Cooper and Chuck Todd — or, for that matter, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier — and stick to softball sessions with Sean Hannity and the “Fox & Friends” crew.
It didn’t take long for Trump to get himself in a bind while speaking with Cooper. After wavering on his deportation plan in a sit-down with Hannity earlier in the week, the real estate mogul shifted again on CNN. Besides the policy changes, there was another key difference: While Hannity, an ardent Trump supporter, went along with his favored candidate, Cooper confronted him.
- COOPER: You said on “Hannity,” you used the word “softening.” Even last night on “Hannity” you talked about …
- TRUMP: Well, I don’t think it’s a softening. I think it’s …
- COOPER: But 11 million people are no longer going to be deported.
- TRUMP: I’ve had people say it’s a hardening, actually.
- COOPER: But 11 million who have not committed a crime …
- TRUMP: No, no. We’re then going to see.
- COOPER: There’s going to be a path to legalization, is that right?
- TRUMP: You know it’s a process. You can’t take 11 at one time and just say, boom, you’re gone. We have to find where these people are. Most people don’t even know where they are. Nobody even knows if it’s 11. It could be 30 and it could be 5. Nobody knows what the number is.
- COOPER: But if somebody hasn’t committed a crime, will they be deported?
- TRUMP: I’ll tell you what we know. Let me explain. Let me tell you what — we know the bad ones. We know where they are, who they are. We know the drug cartel people. We know the gangs and the heads of the gangs and the gang members. Those people are gone. And that’s a huge number.
- COOPER: But isn’t that …
- TRUMP: No, it’s not.
- COOPER: But that’s Jeb Bush’s policy.
Later, a frustrated Trump lashed out at Cooper and CNN, which he has taken to calling the “Clinton News Network.”
Watch the interview: