Former President Donald J. Trump appeared Wednesday evening at a town hall event hosted and broadcast by CNN. The event, which took place at St. Anselm College, put the former president and 2024 GOP frontrunner in front of undecided primary voters who were able to ask him questions. The town hall’s moderator was Kaitlan Collins, a CNN morning host who served as a White House correspondent for The Daily Caller and CNN during Trump’s administration.
The appearance came one day after Trump was found liable in a civil lawsuit brought against him by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll.
Before the Carroll verdict, Trump said the CNN event “could turn into a disaster for all, including me,” but claimed in a post on his Truth Social media platform, “They made me a deal I couldn’t refuse!!!”
The town hall began at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Here are some of the highlights of the event, ranging from comments on the 2020 election and former Vice President Mike Pence to predictions on the war between Russia and Ukraine.
The CNN Republican town hall in New Hampshire opened with former President Donald Trump being asked by moderator Kaitlan Collins if he would concede he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden.
Trump did not directly answer, instead criticizing the Biden administration.
“They found millions of votes on camera, on government cameras, where they were stuffing ballot boxes. 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,” Trump said.
Trump was asked if he owes former Vice President Mike Pence an apology for what happened on Jan. 6, 2021.
“No, because he did something wrong. He should’ve put the votes back to the state legislatures and I think we would’ve had a different outcome,” Trump said.
Trump also claimed that he thinks highly of his former running mate and believes Pence was poorly advised by his attorneys in the months after the 2020 election.
Trump said he would pardon many convicted of offenses related to Jan. 6, if elected in 2024.
“I am inclined to pardon many of them,” he said. “It will be a large portion of them.”
Trump was dismissive of E. Jean Carroll, the woman who won a judgment against the former president in a civil trial Tuesday.
Trump said he does not know Carroll and that her accusations were politically oriented.
“This woman, I don’t know her. I never met her. I have no idea who she is,” Trump said.
Trump was found liable for defamation and sexual battery.
Trump was asked by an audience member, “If elected president again what is the first thing you will do to help bring down the cost to make things more affordable?”
“Drill, baby, drill,” Trump responded, indicating the U.S. should produce more oil to fight inflation.
Trump said he would protect the Second Amendment and not implement more gun control in the wake of mass shootings.
“It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger, it’s the person that pulls the trigger,” Trump said.
Former president said he could end the war between Russia and Ukraine in twenty-four hours.
He said his priority was to stop the killing, not which side won or lost, and he declined to label Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal, as some political leaders have done.
“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.”
Trump said the U.S. has spent $171 billion on the war, but other European countries have kicked in only $20 billion.
The town hall ended Wednesday night with moderator Kaitlan Collins of CNN asking former President Donald Trump if he would accept the 2024 election results, win or lose.
“If I think it’s an honest election I would be honored to,” Trump said.