Donald Trump blasted CNN‘s Kaitlan Collins‘ as a ‘nasty woman’ when she pressed him on why he had classified documents in his possession, slammed writer E. Jean Carroll for her rape accusation, refused to say he lost to Joe Biden and defended the January 6th rioters.
The 70-minute town hall was tense from the start and raced from topic to topic at breakneck speed. Neither Trump nor Collins – who famously sparred when he was president and she was a White House reporter – gave an inch, engaging in repeated back and forths on a number of subjects.
The two of them even got up out of their chairs to go at each other in a head on to head on collison of Trump claims and Collins snap backs that made for fiery TV. Voters in the hall didn’t get an opportunity to ask many questions amid the two’s tête-à-tête.
Biden got in a swipe at Trump after the event, posting on Twitter: ‘Do you want four more years of that?’
Trump lost his temper with Collins when she pressed him as to why he had classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his home in Palm Beach, Florida, calling her a ‘nasty person.’
Donald Trump lost his temper with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, calling her a ‘nasty woman’
The former president argued he was allowed to have the documents under the Presidential Records Act.
‘That’s not what the Presidential Record Act says,’ Collins said, adding she has read the whole law.
Trump then claimed Barack Obama and Joe Biden had documents – Obama did not. Biden handed his over when he found them.
‘They didn’t raid the house of Joe Biden, they didn’t raid Obama,’ Trump said.
Collins pressed him on the issue, telling him Biden didn’t ignore a subpoena on the issue like Trump did and asked him why he didn’t turn over the requested material.
‘Can I talk? Are you ready?,’ Trump said amid her aggressive questioning.
‘I would like for you to answer the question. That’s why I asked it,’ Collins said.
‘You’re a nasty person, I’ll tell you,’ Trump told her.
Collins ignored his insult and told him: ‘Can you answer why you held on to the documents?’
Their wild exchange continued as Collins pressed him: ‘Do you still have any classified documents?’
‘Are you ready?,’ Trump asked her.
‘Do you?’ she pressed.
‘No, no, I have no classified documents,’ he said but added: ‘They become automatically declassified when I took them.’
Trump accused writer E. Jean Carroll of ‘hanky panky’ in her lawsuit against him
That was incorrect and Collins told him: ‘No, they did not declassify them.’
‘You don’t know the subject,’ Trump told her.
‘I do know the subject and I do know the facts, Mr. President,’ Collins told him.
Collins also pressed Trump about Tuesday’s verdict in New York that found he was liable for the sexual assault of Carroll at a department story in the 1990s. Trump has denied the charge. The town hall was his first public appearance since the verdict, where he ws ordered to pay $5 million in damages.
‘What do you say to voters who say it disqualifies you from being president?,’ Collins asked him.
‘There weren’t too many of them because my numbers just – they went up,’ Trump said as the audience cheered and applauded.
The former president repeated his claim he didn’t know Carroll and then proceeded to insult her repeatedly – accusing her of ‘hanky panky,’ claiming she has a cat called ‘Vagina’ and that she called her husband an ‘ape.’ He slammed U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who was appointed to the job by President Bill Clinton.
‘This woman, I don’t know her. I never met her. I have no idea who she is. I had a picture taken years ago with her and her husband, nice guy John Johnson. He was a newscaster, very nice. She called him an ape, happens to be African American. Called him an ape,’ Trump claimed.
‘The judge wouldn’t allow us to put that in. Her dog or her cat was named Vagina, the judge wouldn’t allow to put that in,’ he added.
‘We had a horrible Clinton appointed judge. He allowed her to put everything in,’ he said.
Trump also said of Carroll: ‘What kind of a woman meet somebody and brings them up and within minutes you’re playing hanky-panky in a dressing room, I don’t know if she was married then or not. John Johnson, I feel sorry for you.’
Donald Trump during CNN’s 70 minute town hall
The crowd at New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College – made up of Republican primary voters and independent voters – cheered and applaused Trump’s signature moves, which included name calling, taking out props, and dashing off quips at Collins.
Outside, small group of anti-Trump protesters gathered. Their signs included messages like ‘Nobody is above the law’ and ‘Elections not insurrection.’
During the event, he and Collins went head-to-head on Trump’s false claim he won the 2020 election, the situation at the Southern border, the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the war in the Ukraine.
TRUMP REFUSES TO SAY HE LOST 2020 ELECTION
Trump doubled down on his false claim he won the 2020 presidential contest over Joe Biden and said only ‘stupid people’ thought it was a fair election.
‘I think that when you look at that result and when you look at what happened during that election, unless you’re a very stupid person, you see what a lot of the people in this audience and probably maybe a couple that don’t, but most people understand what happened. That was a rigged election,’ Trump said.
He made that claim several times during the event.
‘The election was not rigged, Mr. President. You cannot keep saying that all night long,’ Collins told him.
Collins pressed him hard: ‘It’s been nearly two and a half years. Can you publicly acknowledge that you did lose the 2020 election?’
Trump refused to back down, saying there was evidence of ballot stuffing and people voting mulitple times. There has never been proof given of this and multiple recounts and lawsuits confirmed Biden’s victory.
A voter in the audience asked Trump if he would drop the election fraud claims.
‘Yes, unless I see election fraud,’ he said.
‘Let’s just win it again and straighten out our country,’ he added as the audience applauded.
Trump faced aggressive questioning from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins
Donald Trump repeatedly refused to say he lost the 2020 election – above Jill and Joe Biden with Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff at the Democratic National Convention in 2020
TRUMP: I’M INCLINED TO PARDON MANY JAN. 6 RIOTERS
Trump also defended his actions on January 6th, when he spoke to supporters on the National Mall that morning.
‘They were there with love in their heart. That was an unbelievable and it was a beautiful day,’ he said of his rally. ‘And what I was asked to do — I wasn’t involved in it very much. I was asked to come in and would I make a speech. I made a speech and I said walk peacefully and patriotically.’
He then blamed the insurrection on Pelosi, who was speaker at the time.
‘Nancy Pelosi — crazy Nancy as I affectionately call her. Crazy Nancy and the mayor of Washington D.C. were in charge of capitol security,’ he said. The speaker is not in charge os security of the Capitol.
As Collins pressed him on his actions that day Trump reached into his suit jacket’s innner pocket and pulled out a sheave of papers to cite his old tweets.
‘Let me pull it out. I have to pull it out,’ he said of the notes. The audience applauded and cheered.
‘So if you look at on January 5th – the day before – I said please support our capitol police and law enforcement, they are truly are on the side of our country, stay peaceful. Stay peaceful. This was the day before, and this was in the form of Twitter,’ he said.
He then noted a video – that he made late in the day hours after the insurrection started – asking his supporters to go home. And he got in a hit at Biden.
‘If you remember I made a video right outside the Oval Office in the rose garden, and I’m very proud of that video. I didn’t have a script. I don’t need a script unlike a certain person in there right,’ he said getting in a hit at Biden.
He also said he was included to pardon many of the rioters. Hundreds of them face federal charges.
‘I am inclined to pardon many of them,’ he said.
Trump noted that he won’t be able to pardon ‘every single one’ but said ‘it will be a large portion of them.’
Trump says he’s included to pardon many of the rioters on January 6th
TRUMP: WON’T APOLOGIZE TO MIKE PENCE
Trump also refused to say he owed his Vice President Mike Pence an apology.
The MAGA supporters who rushed the Capitol were searching for Pence with some threatening to hang him. Trump claimed Pence had the power to send the election results back to the states.
Pence, who as vice president serves as president of the Senate, has a purely ceremonial role to oversee the counting of the electoral college votes.
‘He did something wrong,’ Trump said of Pence. ‘He should’ve put the votes back to the state legislatures and I think we would’ve had a different outcome.’
Congress also strengthened election law in the wake of the January 6th insurrection and clarified the vice president’s ceremonial role.
Trump used that to argue he was right.
‘Kaitlan, why did they change the law then?’
‘They didn’t change the law. They strengthened the law,’ she said.
‘Oh, they strengthened it meaning you could do it’ Trump said as the crowd cheered him on. ‘Thank you,’ he told them.
Mike Pence in the Capitol on January 6th – he had the purely ceremonial role of overseeing the count of the electoral college
TRUMP: LEADS IN POLLS FOR REPUBLICAN NOMINATION
Trump is the leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination – and a poll this weekend showed him beating President Joe Biden in the general election.
Trump has long had a fraught relationship with CNN, which he derided as ‘fake news’ as president, even though former exec Jeff Zucker helped give him his start on ‘the Apprentice.’
Now, he is being questioned Collins, who his staff tried to bump from her seat in the White House briefing room amid tense relations between Trump and the press generally.
The then-president also – at one point – banned Collins from one of his appearances in the White House Rose Garden in 2018 when he got upset with her shouted questions in the Oval Office earlier in the day.
In 2019, he mocked the journalist when she pressed him on the US-Mexico border wall.
‘You ran your campaign promising supporters that Mexico is going to pay for the wall,’ Collins began before Trump interrupted her. ‘Oh here we go again,’ he said.
‘And that wall was going to be made of concrete,’ Collins continued. ‘You just said earlier that the wall could be made of steel and right now our government is shut down over a demand from your administration that the American taxpayer pay for the wall. So how can you say that you are not failing on that promise to your supporters?’
‘A very nice question so beautifully asked, even though I just answered it,’ Trump replied.
‘I just told you that we just made a trade deal. We will take in billions and billions of dollars, far more than the cost of the wall, he said.
Donald Trump and CNN’s Kaitlan Collins at the start of the town hall
Wednesday’s town hall meeting marks Trump’s first appearance for a CNN interview since before he was elected president in 2016.
And former Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who voted for Trump’s second impeachment when she was in the House and sat on a committee looking into his actions during the January 6th insurrection, launched a television ad against him on Tuesday,
Tha ad, airing on CNN before and after the Trump town hall meeting, warning viewers that the former president ‘is a risk America can never take again.’
Cheney narrates the 60-second ad but does not appear in it. It is funded by her political action committee.
TRUMP: FACING MULTIPLE LEGAL ISSUES
Trump’s appearance comes the day after a New York jury found him liable for sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll in 1996, awarding her $5 million in damages. Jurors rejected Carroll’s claim she was raped, but found Trump liable for sexual abuse and for defaming Carroll after she made her allegations public.
He’s also facing other investigations.
Trump, last month in New York, pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records tied to an alleged hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
He also faces an investigation in Georgia, where the Fulton County district attorney plans to announce charges this summer from the investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the Peach State.
Trump is under two investigations from the Justice Department: one tied to his actions trying overturn the 2020 election and one tied to the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.
People protest outside a building on the campus of Saint Anselm College hosting a CNN televised town hall gathering with former President Donald Trump
Trump supporters outside the hall where the town hall will take place
New Hampshire voters stand for the Pledge of Allegiance prior to a town hall starting
Protesters were waiting outside the hall
Jurors debated about three hours before coming to their verdict.
Trump chose not to attend the civil trial and was absent when the verdict was read.
But he responded in an angry post on his Truth Social platform.
‘I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN IS,’ Trump wrote in all caps on his Truth Social web site. ‘THIS VERDICT IS A DISGRACE – A CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!’
And his campaign said in a statement: ‘Make no mistake, this entire bogus case is a political endeavor targeting President Trump because he is now an overwhelming front-runner to be once again elected President of the United States.’
Carroll told the jury Trump attacked her inside a Bergdorf Goodman department store in 1995 or 1996, in a version of events the jury at least partly believed even as Trump was quoted as calling it a hoax.
Trump’s statement that he didn’t know the identity of Carroll came after he failed to properly identify her in a photo in what may have been a key moment of the trial.
During his videotaped deposition, Carroll lawyer Roberta Kramer had Trump look at a black and white image to identify the group, which included himself.
When asked to identify a woman in the photo, Trump responded: ‘That’s Marla, that’s my wife.’
It was only with the help of his lawyer, Alina Habba, that Trump figured out it is in fact Carroll.
‘I don’t even know who the woman. Let’s see, I don’t know who – it’s Marla,’ said Trump.
Carroll bowed her head as the verdict in the battery allegation was read out. As the defamation verdict was read she bowed it again, nodding in agreement. Afterwards she stood up and shook hands with Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina.
Carroll left court beaming from ear to ear without making a statement to the media, but was heard saying to the crowd, ‘We’re very happy.’
Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct or assault by more than two dozen women, but this has so far been the only case to end up before a jury, casting another shadow over Trump’s 2024 Presidential campaign
Carroll, 79, sued for battery under the Adult Survivors Act, a law passed in New York that allowed a one year window for sexual assault claims normally outside of the statute of limitations.
Her claim for defamation was based on statements made by Trump, 76, when he was President in which he called her a liar.
On Wednesday morning, E. Jean took her victory lap on the morning breakfast TV shows, appearing on Good Morning America and the TODAY show
‘I feel fantastic! Yesterday was probably the greatest day of my life,’ she gleefully told ABC’S George Stephanopoulos.
Carroll said she only ever brought the action against Trump for damages after he ‘dragged her through the mud’.
‘I only decided to come forward and tell what happened. I thought that was enough.
‘Then he said terrible things about me, dragged me through the mud, ground my face in the dirt. It was horrible. So I talked to Robbie Kaplan and Robbie and I brought a lawsuit against Donald Trump.
‘And yesterday, despite prosecutors and special counsels and investigators and piling all these legal snarls up to Trump, it was this 5ft 3, wily female attorney and this elderly 79-year-old advice columnist who are finally holding Donald Trump liable.’
She continued her victory lap on NBC’s TODAY.
‘I am overwhelmed, overwhelmed with joy and happiness and delight for the women in this country.’
She believes her case ‘demolished’ the stereotype of the concept of a ‘perfect’ sexual assault victim.
‘Before yesterday there was a concept of the perfect victim, who always screams, always reports to the police, always makes notes of when it happened, and their life folds up and they’re never supposed to be happy.