Former President Donald Trump had a series of ups and downs during the first half of his Wednesday night town hall in New Hampshire on CNN.
Trump repeatedly sparred with CNN host Kaitlan Collins throughout the event on a wide range of subjects, including his stolen election claims, the January 6 riot, a civil court ruling that he battered and defamed author E. Jean Carroll, the economy, energy independence, the debt ceiling, the Second Amendment, the border, abortion, the war in Ukraine, and more.
Trump claimed that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and stolen for a good portion of the opening 45 minutes of the event and he refused to acknowledge that he lost.
“You and your supporters lost more than 60 court cases on the election,” Collins said. “It’s been nearly two and a half years. Can you publicly acknowledge that you did lose the 2020 election?”
“They found millions of votes on camera, on government cameras, where they were stuffing ballot boxes,” Trump said. “So with all of that, I think it’s a shame what happened. I think it’s a very sad thing for our country. I think it’s a very sad thing, frankly, for the world, because if you look at what’s gotten to our country, our country has gone to hell.”
Pressed by CNN's @kaitlancollins in a New Hampshire town hall, former President Donald Trump again refuses to concede that he lost the 2020 election and repeats his false claims about election fraud.
— CNN (@CNN) May 11, 2023
The former president defended his actions on January 6 as he blamed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for turning down his alleged offer to send in the National Guard.
At one point, Trump pulled out notes to recount things that he said around that time about the need to respect law enforcement and to maintain peace. He did not answer Collins’ repeated question about why it took him three hours before calling for the riot to end.
Donald Trump takes out receipts LIVE on CNN “Let me pull it out” 🤣 pic.twitter.com/M20xVmXAst
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) May 11, 2023
When asked if he owed former Vice President Mike Pence an apology for the events of that day, Trump said that he did not because he claimed that Pence was in the wrong.
“No, because he did something wrong,” Trump said. “He should’ve put the votes back to the state legislatures and I think we would’ve had a different outcome.”
Trump, who has faced some criticism from his own supporters for not doing more to help those convicted of committing crimes during the January 6 riot, said he would be inclined to pardon many of them if elected. He said that he was open to potentially pardoning some of the Proud Boys who were convicted of seditious conspiracy.
Trump aggressively pushed back on the ruling this week from a New York civil jury that ruled that he battered and defamed rape accuser E. Jean Carroll. The jury ruled that he did not rape her.
“This woman, I don’t know her,” Trump said. “I never met her. I have no idea who she is.”
Perhaps the strongest moment that Trump had during the night was when he spoke about the economy and energy independence.
CNN TownHall Voter: "On the economy, if elected again as President what is the first thing you would do to bring down costs to make things more affordable?"
President Trump: "Drill Baby Drill" pic.twitter.com/kmHgB4TE3N
— Real Mac Report (@RealMacReport) May 11, 2023
When asked about the U.S. debt ceiling, Trump said that Congress should default on the debt if the White House does not make cuts — which would result in serious economic and financial problems for the U.S.
“I say to the Republicans out there — congressmen, senators — if they don’t give you massive cuts, you’re going to have to do a default, and I don’t believe they’re going to do a default because I think the Democrats will absolutely cave, will absolutely cave because you don’t want to have that happen, but it’s better than what we’re doing right now because we’re spending money like drunken sailors,” Trump said. “You might as well do it now because you’ll do it later because we have to save this country.”