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CNN’s Kaitlan Collins during Wednesday’s Townhall event in New Hampshire, dismissing her politically biased and outdated questions, effectively reducing her role as the moderator by speaking directly to the audience about the “gotcha” topics a visibly irritated Collins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.
The highly anticipated townhall event, teased by Trump, boded well for the former president, despite Collins’s attempt to begin the event with a series of contentious topics and arguably outdated leftist narratives — from the 2020 election results to January 6 to accusations in the E. Jean Carroll case. Notably, Trump received a standing ovation at his introduction.
Standing ovation for Donald Trump at the CNN Town Hall
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) May 11, 2023
Collins kicked off the townhall by focusing on the past election and election fraud claims. Trump made it clear, despite Collins’s implications otherwise, that he cherishes the Constitution, emphasizing the importance of living up to it.
“I mean, we have elections. We have open borders, look at what’s happening on our southern border,” Trump said, pivoting to more pressing subjects, such as illegal immigration, as Collins, at this point in the townhall, continued to press him on the 2020 presidential election.
“They’re being released from prisons. They’re being released from mental institutions, and we have millions of people pouring into our country, and now they’re getting rid of Title 42, which I put on,” he said as a visibly irritated Collins contended there would be questions on that topic later.
From there, Collins brought up another favorite leftist topic: January 6.
“Do you have any regrets about your actions on January 6?” she asked, as Trump walked through exactly how that day went, beginning with a peaceful rally.
“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, noting that Democrats, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — whom Trump referred to “Crazy Nancy” — refused his offer for additional security.
“I offered them National Guard, I said. We’ll give you soldiers. We’ll give you a National Guard. We’ll give you whatever you want. And they turned me down. Yeah. And in fact … she turned me down in writing. They turned me down,” he said, as Collins continued to argue with him. That prompted Trump to show receipts, literally pulling out pieces of paper and reading exactly what he wrote that day and at what time — a move the audience visibly enjoyed and cheered for.
Trump just pulls out receipts to disprove Kaitlin Collins' claims on the CNN town hall… and the crowd cheers!
This is NOT going the way CNN wanted it to. pic.twitter.com/7byCeFkCHr
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 11, 2023
“On January 5, the day before, I said please support our Capitol police and law enforcement. They are truly on the side of our country. Stay peaceful. Stay peaceful. This was the day before and this was in the form of Twitter — now use Truth. Truth Social- I think it’s far superior,” Trump said, dominating the conversation with his paper as Collins looked on and speaking directly to the audience. Trump also turned the narrative around, calling out the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt that day.
“A person named Ashli Babbitt was killed. She shouldn’t have been killed, and that thug who killed her – there was no reason to shoot her,” he said. “She was a good person. She was a patriot.”
President Trump During CNN Town Hall Calls Out The Officer Who Killed Ashli Babbitt
"A person named Ashli Babbitt was killed. She shouldn't have been killed, and that thug who killed her there was no reason to shoot her."
"She was a good person. She was a patriot." pic.twitter.com/LJk5mIG0Hb
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) May 11, 2023
When asked if Trump would pardon January 6 rioters, including members of the Proud Boys, Trump inserted yet another jab, contending that it is hard to get a fair trial in Washington DC, much like New York City, as he has recently experienced.
The CNN Townhall audience applauded when President Trump said he’ll pardon most of the January 6th prisoners. That sound you hear is heads exploding at the CNN offices. Harder to lie to people when people can hear the audience. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼pic.twitter.com/sWEFjJWUgx
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 11, 2023
From there, Collins jumped to the E. Jean Carroll verdict and the Manhattan jury’s conclusions. Trump, again, denied the accusations of sexual abuse.
“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 … who was a newscaster — very nice man,” he said, adding in extra tidbits — including the fact that Carroll’s cat is named “Vagina,” in his answer. Trump then spoofed the accusations, cracking up many members of the audience — likely to Collins’s dismay.
“And this is when I met her and I was immediately attracted to her and she was immediately attracted” to me, Trump said. “And we had this crowded department store. We had this great chemistry.”
Trump continued the story, demonstrating the absurdity of the claims through his entertaining spoof:
This CNN town hall event is a stand up comedy show.
CNN looks terrible.pic.twitter.com/yjUZv8s2V4
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) May 11, 2023
Collins continued her streak of asking arguably outdated and leading questions, asking Trump if he regretted the remarks he made via the Access Hollywood tape. Very simply, Trump said that the reality — that famous individuals have advantages — still rings true.
“But if you’re a famous person, if you’re a star, and I’m not referring to myself, I’m saying people that are famous people that are powerful,” he said as Collins attempted to interrupt, to no avail.
“They tend to do pretty well in a lot of different ways. .. It’s been true for one million years, approximately one million years, perhaps a little bit less,” Trump said.
Trump’s dominance throughout the night was, perhaps, fully encapsulated at the end of the event after Collins attempted to lecture Trump about the Presidential Records Act.
“I have every right, to under the Presidential Records Act,” he said of the documents he possessed, pointing out that several other past leaders have taken documents — including the fact that President Biden has boxes of them.
“The vice president cannot declassify. He didn’t have the right to declassify. He has documents from when he was a senator,” Trump said.
“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,” Collins continued, routinely attempting to interrupt and correct Trump, which prompted him to ask Collins if he could answer the question.
“Can I talk?” he said.
“Yeah, what’s the answer,” Collins replied.
“Do you mind?” Trump asked.
“I would like for you to answer,” she said, interrupting Trump again by sarcastically adding, “That’s why I asked it.”
“It’s very simple- you are nasty person, ok?” Trump said after the CNN moderator’s quip, prompting cheers and laughter from the CNN audience.
Former President Trump to Kaitlan Collins:
"You're a nasty person, I'll tell ya…" pic.twitter.com/6rkLCfbsPQ
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) May 11, 2023
At the conclusion of the townhall, Trump interacted with the audience, even waving off a visibly irritated Collins.