Former President Donald Trump made an eventful appearance on CNN on Wednesday, his first time on the network since 2016, where he repeatedly denied any wrongdoing during the January 6 Capitol riot, claimed to have “declassified” records before taking top secret documents to Mar-A-Lago, and refused to acknowledge the Tuesday verdict, where he was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll.

CNN moderator Kaitlan Collins began the 70-minute-long CNN Townhall event in New Hampshire with questions about Trump’s refusal to accept his 2020 presidential election loss. “I think that, when you look at that result and when you look at what happened during that election, unless you’re a very stupid person, you see what happens,” Trump said.


Trump also refused to commit to accepting another loss should he lose the 2024 elections.


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When asked about the post-election period and January 6 Capitol riot, Trump denied any wrongdoing, saying he was “inclined” to pardon “many” of the hundreds of rioters convicted by the Justice Department. He had also brought a number of his Twitter posts and statements from January 6, the day he referred to as “a beautiful day,” so that he could defend his actions.

“You saw them rushing the Capitol,” Collins told Trump. “When it was clear that they weren’t being peaceful, why did it wait three hours before telling them to leave the Capitol?” Collins asked. “Nancy Pelosi and the mayor are in charge. I assumed they were able to do their jobs. They weren’t,” he responded deflecting the blame.

Trump also refused to accept former vice president Mike Pence’s allegations that he endangered his life and believed that he did not owe him an apology. “I don’t think he was in any danger,” Trump said.

When Collins asked whether he had shown anyone the classified documents found at Mar-A-Lago, Trump said “not really” and “not that he could remember” but that he “would have the right to” because they were “declassified.”

“I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with them,” Trump told the 31-year-old CNN moderator. Collins pressed on, asking him why he refused to comply with the Justice Department subpoena for the classified records, which led to the FBI raid of his Palm Beach residence and the discovery of over 100 classified documents, 18 of which were marked top-secret.

“It’s very simple to answer. You’re a nasty person, I tell ya,” Trump told Collins, as the townhall audience laughed and cheered him on. Trump claimed to have been in the process of “negotiating” with the National Archives and Records Administration to turn over the documents when they raided his home, which he had previously referred to as “shockingly aggressive.”

This was not the first time the former president had clashed with Collins, with his press team once attempting to move her to the back of the briefing room after the two argued over a question about North Korea. The Trump Administration had also previously banned her from attending an event at the White House for asking “inappropriate questions.”

This was also not the first time Trump had referred to someone as “nasty” during a televised appearance. He had previously called Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman” during a 2016 debate, when she shared her plans to raise taxes on the wealthy should she be elected president.

CNN is now facing harsh criticism for allowing Trump to use their platform to spread his false information. Defending their actions and their moderator, CNN released a statement, saying:

“Tonight Kaitlan Collins exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist. She asked tough, fair and revealing questions,” a network spokesperson said. “And she followed up and fact-checked President Trump in real time to arm voters with crucial information about his positions as he enters the 2024 election as the Republican frontrunner. That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account.”

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