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Former President Trump Speaks to New Hampshire Voters at CNN Town Hall Event

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former President Donald Trump took the stage on Wednesday night for a CNN town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, as he seeks the Republican nomination for president for a third time.

Trump’s primetime appearance in a live CNN town hall Wednesday had the former president and 2024 presidential candidate doubling down on his false claims as he faced interview questions from a major outlet for the first time in years after largely sticking to friendly conservative media.

Wednesday’s town hall in New Hampshire marked Trump’s first appearance on CNN since 2016.

Trump’s campaign said he was appearing on the network to step outside of a GOP comfort zone as he already starts to turn his focus to a potential 2024 general election rematch with Democrat Joe Biden.

Questions about sexual assault:

Trump’s appearance came a day after a New York jury found him liable for sexually abusing a woman nearly 30 years ago and defaming her when she spoke about it publicly.

Jurors awarded columnist E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages. The jury rejected her claim of rape and instead found Trump responsible for a lesser degree of sexual assault. Trump denied it, saying he never encountered Carroll at a 1996 department store and did not know her and has said he plans to appeal the verdict.

Trump, when asked by CNN moderator Kaitlan Collins about the verdict, said his poll numbers went up and repeated his statements that he didn’t know Carroll, though at least one photograph has surfaced of them together.

“I don’t know her. I never met her. I had no idea who she is,” Trump said.

He dismissed a question from Collins about whether it would impact his standing with female voters and in response, he launched into a recounting of Carroll’s claims in a mocking voice, drawing laughs and claps from the live audience. Collins tried to interrupt but Trump continued and called it “a fake story” and referred to Carroll as “a wack job.”

On abortion rights:

Trump, responding to a question about the U.S. Supreme Court overturning abortion rights last year, took credit for appointing three of the justices who joined in the majority ruling, saying, “It was such a great victory and people are starting to understand it now.”

He repeatedly falsely claimed that abortion rights supporters wanted to “kill a baby” in the ninth month of pregnancy or even after a birth.

Trump would not say whether he would sign a federal abortion ban if reelected, but argued those in the anti-abortion movement are “in a very good negotiating position right now” because of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Trump said he would “make a determination what he thinks is great for the country and what’s fair for the country” when asked if he would sign a federal abortion ban.

On gun control:

Trump said he would protect the Second Amendment and address mental health problems if reelected in 2024.

“It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger, it’s the person that pulls the trigger,” he said Wednesday in response to a question from an undeclared New Hampshire voter.

Future of war between Russia/Ukraine:

Trump repeated his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him “a smart guy,” but said “he made a bad mistake” to invade Ukraine. Trump claimed, without evidence or explanation, that Putin would never have invaded Ukraine if Trump was still president.

The former president said he had “a great relationship” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, referencing his 2019 impeachment after pressuring Zelenskyy for “a favor” while withholding military aid.

Trump wouldn’t answer a question about whether he’d continue to send U.S. aid to Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and wouldn’t answer a question about who he wanted to win the war, only saying: “I want everybody to stop dying.”

Keeping classified documents:

Trump defended his keeping of top secret and confidential government documents at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago, which is now the subject of a Justice Department probe.

“I had every right to do it. I didn’t make a secret of it,” Trump said.

Trump gave a vague answer when Collins asked if he ever showed the classified documents to anyone.

“Not really. I would have the right to,” the former president said.

“What do you mean ‘not really?’” Collins asked.

“Not that I can think of,” Trump said.

Trump noted that other presidents and vice presidents had kept documents after leaving but didn’t mention that he refused to turn over documents even after receiving a subpoena.

Source: WCVB