CNN’s town hall with former President Trump in New Hampshire on Wednesday was filled with a number of headline-making moments, marking Trump’s first appearance on the network in years.
The former president kicked off the forum, which was moderated by CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins, by touting his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. Trump also went after E. Jean Carroll one day after he was found liable in a civil case of sexually abusing and defaming her. He also raised eyebrows when he declined to call Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal.
Here are five notable moments from Trump’s CNN town hall:
Trump calls E. Jean Carroll a ‘whack job’
The town hall took place one day after a jury found Trump liable of sexual abuse and defamation against Carroll for her allegation that he raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s.
But Trump was dismissive of the findings, as well as any suggestion that it would hurt him in the polls.
“This is a fake story. Made-up story,” Trump said, later adding, “I have no idea who the hell she is. She’s a whack job.”
He recounted his version of events, which frequently elicited laughter from the town hall attendees.
“What kind of a woman meets somebody and brings them up and within minutes you’re playing hanky panky in a dressing room,” Trump said to laughter.
Asked if he thinks the jury’s findings will deter women from voting for him, Trump said: “No I don’t think so.”
Trump labels Kaitlan Collins a ‘nasty person’
One of the most talked-about moments of the evening was when the former president snapped at Collins.
The exchange came as the CNN moderator repeatedly pressed Trump on his handling of classified documents.
“Can I talk? Can I answer the question?” Trump asked during the back-and-forth.
“I want you to answer the question, that’s why I asked it,” Collins said.
“You’re a nasty person,” Trump responded to applause from the audience.
Trump talked over Collins throughout the course of the town hall but praised her at the start and end of the forum.
“I know you very well,” Trump told Collins toward the start of the event, adding “you’re not stupid.” Trump then said “maybe you’ve been given an agenda.”
Tensions between Trump and Collins date back to his time in the White House. During one press briefing in 2020, Trump officials sought to have Collins moved to the back of the room. In another briefing, then-press secretary Kayleigh McEnany derided Collins as an “activist.”
Trump touts overturning of Roe v. Wade
Trump heralded the overturning of Roe v. Wade as a “great victory” while repeatedly avoiding to directly say whether he would back a federal law banning abortion.
Trump said in response to a question from Collins about whether he would sign a federal abortion ban that “what I would do is negotiate so people are happy.”
“I want to do what’s right,” he added.
Trump said he supports certain exceptions to abortion restrictions including in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother, but added that “a lot of people are against that.”
He said he is “looking at a solution that’s going to work.”
Trump also emphasized his own role in the court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe, as he appointed three conservative justices who joined in the majority opinion. He noted that Republicans had been trying to overturn Roe for half a century before it was overturned last year.
““The fact I was able to terminate Roe v. Wade after 50 years of trying. They worked for 50 years — I’ve never seen anything like it. They worked, and I was even, I was so honored to have done it. We are in a very good negotiating position right now only because of what I was able to do,” he said.
Collins presses Trump on 2020 fraud claims
Going into Wednesday’s event, all eyes were on Collins and whether she would be able to fact-check Trump, who throughout his presidency told thousands of falsehoods, according to fact-checkers.
Almost immediately after the two sat down, Collins pushed Trump on his claims that the 2020 election was false and asked whether he would accept that the election was fair. Instead, Trump doubled down on his previous assertions.
The former president throughout the evening repeatedly called the 2020 election fraudulent or rigged, claiming there were scores of improper ballots in major cities like Detroit, Atlanta and Philadelphia. He also defended his phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he asked Raffensperger to find enough votes to flip the state in Trump’s favor.
Collins interjected repeatedly, noting at various points that there was no evidence of fraud in Wisconsin, that numerous lawsuits alleging fraud were dismissed and that former Trump administration officials have testified that there was no widespread fraud and that they told Trump as much.
At one point, when Trump again claimed the election was rigged during an answer on immigration, Collins chimed in.
“The election was not rigged, Mr. President. You can’t keep saying that all night long,” she said.
Before signing off, Collins asked Trump if he would accept the results of the 2024 election if he is the nominee and loses.
“Yeah. If I think it’s an honest election,” Trump said.
Trump declines to call Putin a war criminal
Trump did not say if he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a war criminal when talking about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“I think it’s something that should not be discussed now, it should be discussed later,” Trump said, suggesting that calling Putin a war criminal would reduce the chances of Russia agreeing to end the war.
“If you say he’s a war criminal it’s going to be a lot tougher to make a deal to make this thing stopped,” Trump said. “If he’s going to be a war criminal, people are going to grab him and execute him, he’s going to fight a lot harder than he’s fighting under the other circumstance. That’s something to be discussed at a later day.”
The Biden administration in March announced it had determined that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, citing attacks that indiscriminately targeted civilians.
Trump said that he believed Putin made a mistake going into Ukraine in the first place.
“He would have never gone in if I was president,” Trump said.
Trump did not say whether he wanted Russia or Ukraine to win the war when pressed by Collins.
“I don’t think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people,” he said.