Trump Calls CNN Moderator Kaitlan Collins a 'Nasty Person'

Former POTUS lies about 2020 election, disparages E. Jean Carroll in town hall
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 10, 2023 8:34 PM CDT
Updated May 11, 2023 12:07 AM CDT
Trump Keeps Lying About 2020 Election in CNN Town Hall
People protest outside a building on the campus of Saint Anselm College where a CNN televised town hall gathering with former President Trump will be held, Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in Manchester, NH.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

During a contentious CNN town hall Wednesday night, former President Trump dug in on his lies about the 2020 election, downplayed the violence of Jan. 6, 2021, and repeatedly insulted the woman whom a civil jury this week found him liable of sexually abusing and defaming, the AP reports. (He at one point referred to E. Jean Carroll as a "wack job," drawing laughter from the audience.) 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 US “might as well” default on its debt obligation, despite the potentially 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 who plan to vote in the GOP primary, as moderator Kaitlan Collins sometimes struggled to correct the record as Trump steamrolled with untrue statements. “You are a nasty person,” he snapped at her at one point. He repeatedly doubled down on his lies that the 2020 election had been “rigged,” even though state and federal election officials, his own campaign and White House aides, and dozens of courts, including Republican judges, have said there is no evidence to support his claims.

He also displayed no remorse for what happened on Jan. 6, when a mob of his supporters violently stormed the Capitol in a bid to halt the certification of Joe Biden's win. He excused his delayed response that day—he was silent for more than three hours as the carnage unfolded—pulling out a printout of his tweeted timeline as a form of defense. Instead, he lashed out at the Black police officer who shot and killed rioter Ashli Babbitt, calling him a “thug," despite a Justice Department finding that the shooting was justified. And he said he is inclined to pardon “a large portion” of the rioters charged in the attack. More than 670 people have been convicted of crimes related to that day, including some found guilty of seditious conspiracy or assaulting police officers.

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Trump 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. “I don't feel he was in any danger," he said. In fact, Trump said, Pence was the one who “did something wrong.” He would not commit to accepting the results of the next election, either, saying he would do so only if he feels “it’s an honest election”—as he said before the 2020 election. The difficulties of interviewing Trump live on air became immediately apparent, and as the evening wore on, Collins became more aggressive in trying to pin Trump down on specifics, trying half a dozen times to get him to say what he would do if a federal abortion ban were to reach his desk. He said that he would “negotiate” so “people are happy.” (CNN offered live updates here.)

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