Context: In an effort to rebrand itself to appeal to moderates and those who lean right, CNN invited Donald Trump to participate in a town hall last night, as covered in Upward+. The former president and 2024 GOP candidate received a standing ovation from the audience and cheers throughout the event.
- On January 6 pardons: Trump vowed to pardon many people arrested on January 6 if he is elected again, stating that there are "two standards of justice" in the country.
- On the Ukraine war: When asked about his preferred outcome, Trump said he doesn't think in terms of winning or losing but rather settling the conflict and stopping the killing.
- On inflation and gas prices: When asked what he would do to combat rising prices throughout the economy, Trump said, "Drill, baby, drill."
- On abortion: Trump praised the end of Roe v. Wade (1973) as a positive development for pro-life advocates and said he supports exceptions for abortion such as the life of the mother, rape, and incest.
- On the border crisis and Title 42: Trump warned of "a day of infamy" when the current administration ends Title 42 today, predicting that 15 million people—more than expected—will pour into the country and contribute to its destruction.
- Also: Trump called the host a "nasty person" in response to a snarky comment, eliciting cheers from the audience.
The backlash: Democratic politicians, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), criticized CNN for providing Trump with a platform and for “los[ing] control of this ‘town hall.’” CNN Chairman Chris Licht defended the network's decision, saying, "I absolutely, unequivocally believe America was served very well by what we did last night." He argued that the town hall helped clarify the stakes of the upcoming election and that it was essential for CNN to host the "messy conversation" and “ask tough questions.”