Depending on which media you are with, former President Donald Trump either destroyed CNN, or started telling lies the minute he went onstage in his much-anticipated town hall, hosted by a news organization that has been his nemesis.
For days before the event, leftists had flooded CNN with requests to not give Trump a microphone on the network.
Trump supporters were jubilant at his performance on Wednesday night.
“Former President Donald Trump steamrolled CNN’s Kaitlan Collins during Wednesday’s Townhall event in New Hampshire, dismissing her politically biased and outdated questions, effectively reducing her role as the moderator by speaking directly to the audience about the “gotcha” topics a visibly irritated Collins continually posed throughout the night,” Breitbart wrote about the event, in which Trump outperformed Collins on every topic, including his recent conviction in the E. Jean Carroll sexual assault trial in Manhattan.
Slate, a leftist publication, thought it went so badly for the network that it wrote, “Donald Trump’s CNN Town Hall Was a Disaster. If this is how the network plans to cover 2024, its CEO might as well resign now.” The writer went on to call Trump a liar and sociopath.
The New York Times wrote, “Trump’s Falsehoods and Bluster Overtake CNN Town Hall. Facing questions from the audience and the moderator, Donald Trump insisted, falsely, that the 2020 election was rigged. He also dodged questions on abortion, praised Jan. 6 rioters and mocked E. Jean Carroll.”
Although CNN pulled the plug on the event as much as 25 minutes earlier than expected, Trump got a standing ovation from the live audience when he took to the stage, and received a rousing response throughout the nearly 70 minutes
“Do you have any regrets about your actions on Jan. 6 ?” Collins asked Trump, who responded by going through the day’s events, moment by moment.
“I said, walk peacefully and patriotically, you know, many different things. In fact, I brought a list of things. I don’t want to bore the audience, but we can go sentence after sentence after sentence of things,” he said. He reminded Collins that he had offered security, including the military, at the Capitol, an offer that was turned away by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
He also criticized the officer who shot and killed protester Ashli Babbitt, labeling him a thug and calling Babbitt a patriot. He said he would pardon most Jan. 6 participants who had been convicted, which brought an outburst of cheering from the audience.
The topic turned to the recent sexual assault accusations against him by E. Jean Carroll.
Trump said that Carroll’s version of the story was ridiculous, that they met at the door of a department store, one that he has rarely listed, “And this is when I met her and I was immediately attracted to her and she was immediately attracted to me. And we had this crowded department store. We had this great chemistry,” he continued, weaving Carroll’s side of the story. He noted that Carroll had a cat named “Vagina,” but that the judge would not allow that on the record, while allowing all kinds of unrelated material from Carroll.
The grilling by Collins turned toward classification and declassification of presidential documents — those found in Trump’s home and those found in then-Vice President Joe Biden’s home.
“I have every right to under the Presidential Records Act,” keep documents of his presidency, he said pointing out the boxes and boxes the Biden had in his possession and then saying, “The vice president cannot declassify. He didn’t have the right to declassify.”
Collins pressed: “That’s the question that investigators have, I think is why you held on to those documents when you knew the federal government was seeking them and then had given you a subpoena to return.”
Trump, who was being interrupted by Collins repeatedly, said, “Can I talk?”
“Yeah, what’s the answer,” Collins replied.
“Do you mind?” Trump asked.
“I would like for you to answer. That’s why I asked it,” she snarked.
“It’s very simple. You are nasty person, OK?” Trump said, which caused members of the audience to break into cheering.
The president responded to questions about the war in Ukraine, and said he would end the war in Ukraine in just one day, if he’s elected.
“I don’t think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people,” he said. When Collins asked him to choose a side, he would not take the bait, saying instead, “I want everyone to stop dying.”
But CNN cut the town hall short. It was just not going as the network had planned.
Rep. Matt Gaetz called it the equivalent of a “mercy rule,” because Trump had vanquished his opponent, Collins, who wore a white suit in the style of liberal women who are making a “suffragette” statement regarding women’s rights. Her body language as she moderated the debate she was having with Trump showed that she was on her guard, with her legs turned away from him, and her arms folded across her midriff.
Jake Tapper had a different reaction than Gaetz: “It was an interesting night. Mr. Trump’s first lie was told just seconds into the night … and the falsehoods kept coming fast and furious.”