Trump Adamant About 2020 Election, Jan. 6 Protest During CNN Town Hall

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Former President Donald Trump came out swinging against a CNN moderator on Wednesday as she interrupted him and tried to school him on the facts of the 2020 election, the subsequent U.S. Capitol protest on Jan. 6, 2021, and other topics.

In the first major TV event of the 2024 presidential campaign, Trump refused to cave in as moderator Kaitlin Collins tried to get him to admit he lost the 2020 election and to disavow claims that it was stolen or rigged.

Minutes into his hourlong appearance, Trump declared that only “a very stupid person” would fail to see the problems with the 2020 election. He then said he knows that Collins, a former White House correspondent, is “not stupid at all.”

Then he called out Collins, saying, “But perhaps you are given an agenda.”

Donald Trump speaking at CNN Town Hall
Donald Trump speaking at CNN Town Hall Former President Donald Trump speaks at a CNN Town Hall at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., on May 10, 2023, in a still from video. (CNN/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

The former president’s exchange with Collins finally degenerated to the point where he told her: “You’re a nasty person.”

Trump drew applause from the crowd of Republican and undeclared voters at the event at St. Amselm College in New Hampshire, when he said, “Look, we have to have honest elections in our country … Let’s just win it again and straighten out our country.”

In a Truth Social post a day beforehand, Trump predicted the event could either usher in a “new and vibrant CNN, with no more fake news, or it could turn into a disaster for all, including me.”

Collins asked Trump whether he had any regrets about the events of Jan. 6. When she asked why he didn’t disavow violence sooner, Trump produced a printout from his breast pocket and began reciting tweets that showed he had urged people to be peaceful before, during and after the march on the Capitol.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo Supporters of US President Donald Trump clash with police and security forces outside the Capitol Building in Washington DC on January 6, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso /AFP via Getty Images)

“They thought the election was rigged. They were there proud, with love in their heart … and it was an unbelievable day,” Trump said, adding the crowd was the largest he had ever addressed.

Trump said he was “inclined” to pardon many of the protesters prosecuted for their involvement in the Jan. 6 event, which Democrats labeled an “insurrection.”

The former president said allowing Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters and looters to go unpunished is very unfair, while in contrast, the Jan. 6 protesters are “living in hell right now,” as many are incarcerated in a Washington jail to this day, awaiting trial for more than two years.

Trump also noted that he’d given then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) the chance to have 10,000 National Guard troops to guard the Capitol, but she declined.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo Boxes of counted ballots are seen locked in the ballot storage area at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 6, 2020. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Collins introduced Trump on the night by announcing, “He’s the first former president in more than a century to seek a return to the White House, and he is currently leading the Republican field but also facing multiple criminal investigations and an indictment. Just yesterday, he was held liable for sexual abuse and defamation.”

She was referring to a New York jury’s verdict in the case of E. Jean Carroll, a former journalist who alleged Trump sexually assaulted her sometime in the 1970s in a department store. He described Carroll’s account as ludicrous.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo E. Jean Carroll speaks onstage during the How to Write Your Own Life panel at the 2019 Glamour Women Of The Year Summit at Alice Tully Hall in New York on Nov. 10, 2019. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Glamour)

“What kind of a woman meets someone, and within moments, you’re playing hanky-panky in a dressing room?” Trump said.

He also repeated his denial of encountering Carroll.

“I don’t know who the hell she is … and I swear on my children, which I never do,” he said.

Asked whether he regretted not testifying in that case, Trump said: “It wouldn’t have made a difference.” He said his lawyer advised him not to testify because “this is a fake story, and you don’t want to give it credibility.”

Then, wryly, he remarked about Carroll, “She’s a whack job.” People in the audience laughed.

After an audience member asked whether Trump would support sending more money to Ukraine, Collins asked: “Do you want Ukraine to win this war?”

ukraine fire
ukraine fire Ukrainian service members from a 3rd separate assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, fire a howitzer D30 at a front line, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on April 23, 2023. (Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters)

Trump said he doesn’t like to think of “winning” vs. “losing” in such a situation. “I think of it in terms of getting it settled,” he said. “I want everyone to stop dying.” But he needs the power of the presidency to step in and make that happen, Trump said.

Fielding questions from the audience, Trump said he would secure the U.S.-Mexico border and would “drill baby, drill” for oil to immediately improve the economy by lowering energy costs.

Trump also said he is concerned about the nation’s debt crisis and predicts that the government will need to default eventually.

“Our country is dying. Our country is being destroyed by stupid people,” he said.

He added that a default is better than “spending money like drunken sailors,” and that Republicans should refuse to raise the debt limit and continue to call for spending cuts. Democrats “will absolutely cave” with that strategy, Trump said.

When asked about whether he’d sign an abortion ban if he won a second term, the former president didn’t provide a direct answer, but said he would “negotiate so people are happy.”

“People that will kill a baby in the ninth month or the eighth month or the seventh month or after the baby is born, they’re the radicals—not the pro-life,” he said.

Trump expressed his ongoing commitment to protecting the Second Amendment. He will try to fight mental health issues in the country instead of restricting everybody’s right to access guns.

“There’s been nobody that’s protected the Second Amendment as you know like I have. I’ve protected it through thick and thin, not easy to do, ” he said. “But we have a very big mental health problem in this country. And again, 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.”

He added that people who don’t own guns are “not going to be very safe.”

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