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Trump said he would impose a 45 percent tax on Chinese goods. Then he denied it in the debate.

Trump denied calling for a 45 percent tax on Chinese goods. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Donald Trump denied telling the New York Times that he would impose a 45 percent tax on Chinese goods if elected president.

"That's wrong. They were wrong. It's the New York Times, they are always wrong," Trump said during Thursday's Republican debate.

"What I said to the New York Times, is that, 'we have great power, economic power over China, and if we wanted to use that and the amount -- where the 45 percent comes in, that would be the amount they saw their devaluations that we should get.' That we should get," Trump said.

Except the Times has Trump on tape and released the audio. Here's what he said to them:

"I would tax China products coming in. I would do a tariff. And they do it to us. You have to be smart. I’m a free trader. I’m a free trader. And some of the people would say, 'oh, that’s terrible.' I’m a free trader. I love free trade. But it's got to be reasonably fair. I would do a tax, and the tax – let me tell you what the tax should be. The tax should be 45 percent," he said.

Trump said the tax would be equivalent to "the kind of, you know, devaluations" the country has made to its currency.