'Shameful': 5 Big Moments From Trump's CNN Performance

Moderator Kaitlan Collins was steamrolled while trying to fact-check the ex-president, with the broadcaster facing a backlash for the town hall event.
Trump speaks on CNN as he begins his latest presidential bid.
Trump speaks on CNN as he begins his latest presidential bid.

US news network CNN has come under fire for hosting former president Donald Trump in a 90-minute event that catapulted him back onto the political centre-stage.

Trump was taking part in a so-called town hall event which saw him take questions from moderator Kaitlan Collins and members of the audience – specifically Republican voters from New Hampshire – as he begins his latest presidential bid.

Collins attempted to rein in Trump by fact-checking his lies, but was largely steamrolled by the ex-president.

Democrat politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the decision to platform Trump was “shameful” and the Lincoln Project, a Republican group opposing him, said in a statement: “Tonight’s disaster must be a lesson that every other news organisation on earth must learn: DO NOT NORMALISE DONALD TRUMP. CNN gave Trump 90 minutes of uninterrupted air time to rewrite history and reset his own narrative.”

Here are just five of the reasons why the broadcaster is facing a backlash.

1. Stood by his denial of 2020 presidential election results.

Trump, with his first question from Collins about why he should be elected again, repeated his lies about the 2020 presidential election and his unfounded claims of election fraud.

“That was a rigged election,” Trump said, barely two minutes in.

As Collins continued to try to fact-check Trump, he interrupted again, calling for honest elections and then pivoting to other subjects such as immigration.

He also defended the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The former president quickly began boasting about the size of the crowd he spoke to before some began marching on the Capitol and said the attendees believed the election was “rigged”.

“They were there proud. They were there with love in their heart. That was unbelievable and it was a beautiful day,” Trump said.

2. Rejected lawsuit that found him liable for sexual abuse

Trump’s appearance came a day after a New York jury found him liable for sexually abusing write E Jean Carroll nearly 30 years ago, and defaming her when she spoke about it publicly.

“I have no idea who the hell [this is],” Trump said. “She’s a whack job.”

Carroll, one of dozens of women who have accused Trump of sexual assault or misconduct, came forward with her story in 2019.

“I never met this woman. I never saw this woman,” Trump lied to Collins. “What kinda woman meets somebody and brings them up, and within minutes you’re playing hanky-panky in a dressing room?”

His version prompted laughter from the audience.

3. Defended taking classified documents

Trump defended keeping top-secret and confidential government documents at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago, which is now the subject of a Justice Department probe.

“I had every right to do it. I didn’t make a secret of it,” Trump said.

Trump argued other presidents and vice presidents had kept documents after leaving office – but didn’t mention that he refused to turn over documents even after receiving a subpoena.

As the town hall went on, Collins jumped in earlier and more often to correct him or get him back on track. Trump got frustrated.

At one point, he repeated an insult he hurled at Hillary Clinton during their 2016 presidential debate, calling Collins “nasty”.

5. Refused to say he wants Ukraine to win war with Russia

Trump yet again praised “smart guy” Vladimir Putin and said he had “a great relationship” with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy – failing to mention his 2019 impeachment after pressuring Zelenskyy for “a favour” while withholding military aid.

Trump wouldn’t say whether he’d continue to send US aid to Ukraine to keep fighting against Russia’s invasion, and he wouldn’t answer a question about who he wanted to win the war. “I want everybody to stop dying,” he said.


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