During a contentious CNN town hall Wednesday night, former President Donald Trump dug in on his position about the 2020 election, downplayed the violence on Jan. 6, 2021, and repeatedly insulted the woman whom a civil jury this week found him liable of abusing and defaming.
Trump, returning to the network after years of acrimony, also refused to say whether he wants Ukraine to win the war against Russian aggression and said the U.S. “might as well” default on its debt obligation, despite the potential devastating economic consequences.
The live, televised event — held in early-voting New Hampshire — underscored the challenges of fact-checking Trump in real time. The former president was cheered on and applauded by an audience of Republican and unaffiliated voters as moderator Kaitlan Collins sometimes struggled to get a word in edgewise. Trump — who at one point snapped that Collins was “a nasty person” — continued to insist the 2020 election had been “rigged,” even though state and federal election officials, his own campaign and White House aides, and numerous courts have said there is no evidence to support his claims.
Trump also defended his response on Jan. 6, when a mob violently stormed the Capitol in a bid to halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s win. Trump — who pulled out a printout of his tweets from that day — instead lashed out at the Black police officer who shot and killed rioter Ashli Babbit, calling him a “thug.” And he said he is inclined to pardon “a large portion” of Jan. 6 defendants — more than 670 rioters have been convicted of crimes related to that day.
Trump, who is the undisputed frontrunner for the Republican nomination to take on Biden once again, also rejected a suggestion that he apologize to his former vice president, Mike Pence, who was targeted by the mob after Trump wrongly insisted that Pence had the power to overturn the election results.
HERE ARE VIDEOS FROM THE CNN TOWN HALL:
President Trump receives a standing ovation at the CNN Town Hall.
First question for President Trump is from a man named Scott Dustin who wants to know if Trump will commit to not making “polarizing” statements about the 2024 election.
Trump says he will pardon a large portion of the people involved in January 6th. The audience applauds.
President Trump brought the Tweets.
“A person named Ashli Babbitt was killed, and she shouldn’t have been killed, and that thug that killed her, there was no reason to shoot her, at blank range, at cold, blank range, they shot her. She was a good person, she was a patriot and there was no reason.”
“That was a rigged election and it was a shame that we had to go through it… They found millions of votes on camera, on government cameras, where they were stuffing ballot boxes.”
In Washington D.C. you can’t get a fair trial, just like in New York City you can’t get a fair trial.”
Asked if he would support any new gun control policies at all, Trump says he would “very much harden” schools and again pushes the idea of arming teachers.
President Trump asked about mass shootings:
“It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger; it’s the person that pulls the trigger. And we have to protect our Second Amendment rights.”
Trump on if he wants Ukraine to win the war “I want everyone to stop dying. Trump also indicates he is opposed to more military aid to Ukraine.
Collins: You once said using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge could not happen.
Trump: Sure, that’s when I was president.
Collins: So why is it different now?
Trump: Because now I’m not president.
“Not that I can think of” — Trump on if he showed classified documents to anyone after taking them after he left the White House.
“You’re a nasty person” — Trump to Kaitlan Collins (the audience cheers).
COLLINS: You asked him to find you votes TRUMP: I didn’t ask him to find anything COLLINS: We’ve heard the audio.
TRUMP ON CNN: Trump says he’ll accept the results of the 2024 election “if I think it’s an honest election.”
(AP / YWN World Headquarters – NYC)