Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Trump Claims E. Jean Carroll Trial Was "Rigged" After Jury Found Him Liable For Sexual Abuse And Defamation; Trump Calls Overturning Of Roe. V. Wade "A Great Victory"; Trump Again Refuses To Acknowledge That He Lost The 2020 Election. Aired 9:10-10p ET
Aired May 10, 2023 - 21:10 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You're looking there at St. Anselm College, in Manchester, New Hampshire. Tonight's CNN Town Hall, moderated by Kaitlan Collins, the first of the 2024 presidential campaign is now on the books.
Good evening from New York.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Hello, from Washington.
It was an interesting night. Mr. Trump's first lie was told, just seconds into the night, with his false familiar claim that the 2020 election was, quote, a "Rigged" election.
And the falsehoods kept coming, fast and furious, about the January 6 insurrection, about the threat to Vice President Pence, about Pence's ability, to overturn the election, about COVID, about the economy and more.
He called the Black law enforcement officer, a "Thug." He said people, here in Washington, D.C., at Chinatown, don't speak English. He attacked Kaitlan, as a nasty woman, because she was trying to get him to answer a question.
Perhaps most chillingly, the day after a nine-person jury, of his peers, in New York, found him liable, for sexual battery, defamation, and ordered him to pay, Writer, E. Jean Carroll, $5 million, he made fun of her account, of her sexual assault. And many in the audience laughed!
COOPER: And applauded!
The former President making his first appearance, tonight, on this network, since the 2016 election. He spoke with, and took questions, from New Hampshire, Republican, and undeclared voters, who plan to take part, in the GOP primary. And it took place just a day after, as Jake referenced, Manhattan federal jury found him liable, of sexually abusing, and defaming, Writer, E. Jean Carroll.
TAPPER: And let's get right to it. With me, here, in studio, CNN's Audie Cornish, Abby Phillip, Dana Bash, John King, Laura Coates, and Jamie Gangel. Let me start with you, Dana. We don't have enough time, to fact-check every lie, he told. But he started off, with the election one. And, boy, he really just never let that bone go!
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: And it's pretty clear, the evidence is now out there, that he is going to continue to tell that lie, not just to the audience, where he has an echo chamber, conservative media, but unbiased, straight down, the middle media. The people he's trying to get, beyond his base, now saw and heard that this is something that he will not let go of, the 2020 election lies.
And Kaitlan pushed him, on the fact that the evidence does not support what he said, on the fact that many of his own former attorneys, former aides, have now said that. And he's not letting it go. And that is something that was very much, on display, for the entire country, and the entire world, to see.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: And as usual, with Trump, I mean, this is a person, who is so steeped, in his own conspiracy theories, it's hard to know whether he can even see his way out of them.
I mean, being confronted time after time, with just plain facts, about the fact that his campaign asked for recounts that they found no election fraud? Even going into January 6? I mean, it really if you are -- if you are steeped, in the conspiracy theories, around this stuff, you would still probably need a map, to get around, what he said, tonight. And I think that is an encapsulation of the problem.
It's a problem, not just for Trump, as he tries to not just make it out of a Republican primary. But, according to his campaign, they want to appeal to a broader swath of voters.
PHILLIP: Well, I think, voters, in the middle, if they were really listening, tonight, would really have no idea, what he was talking about, on a number of really important things, starting first and foremost with whether or not he thinks the last election was free, and fair.
This is a person, who, from the time, he was, in the presidency, up until now, is deeply confused, about the truth, and is lying, intentionally, to his supporters, and plans to do that.
And I don't really see anything that's changed, about Trump, frankly, I mean, between when he left the White House, and today. So, his aides can say what they want. But Trump is Trump. And he hasn't changed. And he continues to do all of the things that he did, for four years, in the White House, and for the two years since he left.
TAPPER: He really praised a bunch of those violent criminals, in prison, right now, for the January 6 insurrection, just talking about pardoning them, praising them, as police and firefighters, not really talking about the fact that they were physically attacking law enforcement officers, on the Capitol.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT, CNN HOST, "THE ASSIGNMENT" PODCAST: Well, he was provided a spotlight, in a key state, with a warm audience that received his comments, with applause and laughter. So, I think, it was easy for him to make these kinds of comments.
And what this does give us is a preview of the general election, possibly, right? And I say this, I mean, not lightly, because we're still 500 days away.
But if anyone wants to know what the rest of his election patter will sound like, it's just this. It's more of this. Only now we actually know, for instance, that he's been told multiple times, to his face, and the reports, he's commissioned, that he lost the election.
So, it's us. He's the same. We're different. We all know more. And it's really what voters, who are not in that room, think about it.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: Yes. Look, he is who he is. And he is who he was, in the sense that he, as you said, within the first minute, he told his first lie. He went on throughout the thing.
I think this -- one of the stunning things to see, though, in the sad laughter, when he was mocking E. Jean Carroll--
TAPPER: Really just a front seat (ph).
KING: --from the audience, is the hold he has, on the Republican Party. And so, welcome to the Trump paradox.
CNN reached out to Republican undeclared voters, in New Hampshire. That is a honest reflection, of Republican beliefs, in New Hampshire.
He is by far and away the Republican front-runner. Nobody votes for what, seven months? So, there's time to see. But he has this enormous grip, on the Republican Party. He knows that. He is celebrating it. That's why he mocked Ron DeSantis, and the others.
But there is zero evidence, and you just saw it, on live TV, that he wants to change, will think about changing, even for strategic reasons, even if he didn't believe it, right? If he could say "I'm the far away front runner, let me try to move back to the middle. Let me have a different answer on abortion as opposed to no real answer on abortion." He kept ducking the question. "Let me say Joe Biden won, I'll get him next time."
Do something to try to reach out to the suburban voters that he just repulsed, who ran from the Republican Party, in 2018, 2020, and again, in 2022? He did nothing to do that, because he is who he is.
He knows we live in a 50-50 country. And he knows if things go his way, especially, at this moment, given the unsatisfaction with the incumbent? I know a lot of people don't -- won't like this, when I say it. He has a plausible path to win again.
TAPPER: Of course, absolutely.
KING: You can put the map together. And he thinks he can win by doing just that, which is a lot of lies.
TAPPER: So Laura, let me ask you a legal matter, obviously, your bailiwick. E. Jean Carroll was awarded $5 million, from him, yesterday.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes.
TAPPER: A jury of his peers, and he basically provided almost no defense. He didn't show up. His deposition -- his taped deposition was a travesty, in which, as Kaitlan noted, he doubled down, on his Access Hollywood claim, about what you get away with, unfortunately, or fortunately, as he said, if you're a star.
He went after her, again, tonight.
TAPPER: He just won -- I mean, she just won--
COATES: He's been--
TAPPER: --$3 million, for defamation, yesterday.
TAPPER: He called her a whackjob. I don't know if we have some of that sound. Let's run it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, CNN TOWN HALL: I want to ask you about a significant verdict that was reached yesterday. I know this is something you want to weigh in on as well. Manhattan jury found that--
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sure.
COLLINS: --you sexually abused, the Writer, E. Jean Carroll, and defamed her. You've denied this.
COLLINS: But what do you say to voters, who say it disqualifies you, from being President?
TRUMP: Well, there aren't too many of them, because my poll numbers just came out. And they went up. OK?
(AUDIENCE CHEERS & APPLAUSE) TRUMP: I think I'm -- I think I'm--
(AUDIENCE CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: --I'm the only person in history, who had a charge like that. And usually, you leave office, you say "I'm sorry, but I'm going to back home. I'm back home to my family and everything. I'm going to be resigning."
My poll numbers went up. And they went up with the other fake charge too. Because, what's happening is they're doing this, for election interference.
This woman, I don't know her. I never met her. I have no idea who she is.
COLLINS: Can I ask you because--
TRUMP: And I swear on my children, which I never do, I have no idea who this woman is. This is a fake story, made-up story. We had a horrible Clinton-appointed judge. He was horrible. He allowed her to put everything in. He allowed us to put nothing in.
COLLINS: Mr. President?
TRUMP: This is a fake story.
COLLINS: You're recounting your version of events, here, right now, to the audience. You referenced the trial. You did not go to the trial, and actually testify.
TRUMP: That's right.
COLLINS: Do you wish that you had testified?
TRUMP: No. It wouldn't have made a difference. This was a rigged deal.
This was a -- my lawyer said, "Sir, you don't have to do it."
I actually said "I think I should, it would be respectful."
They said "Sir, don't do it. This is a fake story. And you don't want to give it credibility."
COLLINS: One thing you--
TRUMP: That's why I didn't go.
COLLINS: One thing you did do in this--
TRUMP: And I swear -- and I've never done that. And I swear to -- I have no idea who the hell -- she's a whackjob.
COLLINS: Mr. President? (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: "She's a whackjob."
Now, his lawyer, Joe Tacopina, is saying that he is going to -- they're going to appeal, even though I don't know what kind of grounds for appeal they really have, given the fact that they didn't really mount much of a defense. And there is such a record, he have -- he has, of women accusing him of sexual assault and harassment.
How does his going on CNN, and calling the woman, who was just awarded $5 million, after a jury found him liable, for sexual abuse and defamation, calling her a whackjob? Does that play into his attempt to get an appeal?
COATES: Before I answer your question, let me just be very clear. What we saw tonight was outrageous, absolutely.
I'm a very objective person. The idea that you would have somebody, who is vying to be the Head of the Executive branch, say that the jury pools in the United States of America are not fair, that presumptively we must doubt them, because of how they may vote, in elections? That you would allude, to what kind of a woman, that was his phrase, would engage in some of -- some of the behavior?
The idea of re-trying to litigate, in the court of public opinion, what has already been decided in a court of law? It's a phrase called "Res adjudicata," which is different than double jeopardy, we all are familiar with. The idea, you cannot try somebody twice for the same crime. That's in the criminal context.
But courts will look at it, and say, "Hold on. Is there a common nucleus of facts here that suggests that we've already dealt with this issue?"
Your comment, based on this circumstance, what you've said, it really is up to a judge, to figure out whether you can bring charges, or bring a lawsuit, again, based on that very notion.
It's kind of novel territory, in the sense that -- the context of what he's saying, tonight. But the idea that he is making that statement, going beyond that today, to take credit, for the Dobbs decision? Did we all catch that?
TAPPER: Yes. We're going to get to that in a second.
COATES: To say, "I did that."
TAPPER: Yes, yes.
COATES: I just have to get this in. Because it was the Supreme Court of the United States, who are nine Supreme Court members, we know that they are inherently appointed, in a political fashion. But for this President to say that he usurped, essentially, the role of the Supreme Court, doesn't bode well for the credibility, of our courts, in this world.
COATES: And let me just say this. I'm sorry to cut you off, because, as the lawyer, watching this, I have to say. I would be salivating, if I were the attorneys, for E. Jean Carroll, if I were the prosecutors, if I were Jack Smith, if I were in Georgia? Because, every single statement will line up, in a column, against here are the potential claims.
Jamie Gangel, what are you hearing? You have so many Republican sources, all over the country. What are you hearing?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: People are appalled, about what they saw, tonight. They were appalled by the audience's reaction. And, as one person said to me, "If you have forgotten what he did, on January 6, tonight was a wake-up call."
He lied. He undermined democracy, the rule of law, the justice system. He called the Capitol Hill police officer, a thug. We've already talked about E. Jean Carroll. I would -- I did not get one positive. My phone blew up, over it. People were outraged by it.
And I would end with this. Everyone, who thinks they could be a Republican, running against him? You just saw tonight what you're up against, on a debate stage.
BASH: Can I just add one thing on that note? Chris Christie just sent a tweet out. He's seriously considering running. We even talked about what the former President said, about Ukraine and Russia, in detail.
And what Christie said was, "Donald Trump says he would end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours." He said, "Despite how ridiculous that is, I suspect he would do it by turning Ukraine over to Putin and Russia. #Putin'sPuppet."
TAPPER: So, let's go to Anderson, in New York.
With me here, five CNN Political Commentators, and Senior Political Commentators, from across the partisan spectrum. Van Jones, Kristen Soltis Anderson, David Axelrod, Alyssa Farah Griffin, David Urban.
Also joining us is Florida Republican congressman, and Trump supporter, Byron Donalds.
David Axelrod, your thoughts on what you saw? DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I mean, in one way, my thoughts were summarized by the previous panel.
But I will say, anyone, who has been paying attention, and expected Donald Trump, to be anything what -- other than what he was tonight, really has misread the situation. That is who he is. And, that is the core of his appeal to his base.
I said to Dave, earlier, there's no R on his gearshift. He never concedes, any era. He never concedes, doing anything wrong. The idea that he was going to show up, and say, "You know, I've thought this through, and I really, I should have done a few things differently," that might have been good political advice, for a general election. That's not who he is. And that sort of -- that authentically, who is who Donald Trump is.
But it does underscore one thing, and I don't use this term lightly. There are lots of professions, in which sort of being a sociopath, you get punished for. It's not a quality that is an advantage, in many settings. But if you're a politician, and you're just willing to blow through facts, and blow through challenges, and insist on your version of the truth? There's some advantage to that. And he's proved it.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & POLLSTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is the Donald Trump that we have always known. He is who he is.
And if you are a voter, who is looking at next November, and thinking, you're dreading this rematch, between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, we got confirmation that the rematch is a rerun that we've already seen exactly what Donald Trump is. And he's not bringing some new Donald Trump 2.0, to the campaign trail.
I do think it was notable that he brought a prop, in terms of the printout of tweets, and clips, and things, specifically around January 6. Because, you can tell that he wants to make the case, "Look, you think I am the chaos guy. But actually, under Biden, that's chaos," right?
He talks about the border, crime, gas prices. And then, he undercuts his own message that he's actually not the chaos guy, by saying he would pardon the folks, on January 6. You can see what message he's trying to drive, but he can't help himself, undercut it at every turn.
COOPER: And then, well he talked about the January 6, those who are in prison, saying that they are living in hell.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
COOPER: Concerned about. JONES: Look, I mean, unreformed, unrepentant, unimproved, rerun -- rerun Donald.
And if you're watching this, trying to figure out what's going to happen, to America, you should be very worried. He threw Ukraine under the bus, just threw them under the bus. So, a vote for this guy is a vote for a Putin victory. Period. Point-blank. You can't get away from that.
He would not say that he wouldn't pardon people, who've been convicted, in U.S. Courts, of seditious conspiracy, a criminal thug group, called the Proud Boys. That's an easy, "No, I'm not going to pardon traitors." He wouldn't even give you that!
He called the Black police officer, a thug. He talked about Chinatown. All the dog whistles are there. This is rerun Donald. No improvement, no reflection, no repentance, no remorse. And that's what you're voting for, if you vote for this.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WH DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I honestly found it jarring to watch.
And just kind of a quick recap, he refused to call Vladimir Putin a war criminal. He did not commit to continuing aid to Ukraine.
He basically alluded to restarting the inhumane family separation policy, at the southern border.
He once again repeatedly denied that he lost the election, which he did in 2020.
And then he made light of sexual assault. And even more horrifyingly, some of the audience members laughed.
This is a man, who is so wholly unfit to be President of the United States. I hope that was clear as day to viewers. And I just want to say one thing, because, some important policy issues did come up.
But what I would -- I would encourage folks, any Republican, running for office, or considering running for president, wants to secure the border. They want to bring down inflation. They want to deal with the economy. They want strong American leadership, abroad. They will do that without the chaos, the insanity, and throwing our allies, under the bus, the way Donald Trump will.
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I'm down here at the lone end of the table, for a reason, I think.
Look, what explains the fact, to America, maybe Jamie Gangel's phone was blowing up, from friends, she knows. But half the United States still like this guy, right? You heard John King say, he may be the next President of the United States, right? He may be the next President of the United States. So, I know there's this, you know, he's a terrible human being. He did all these -- said all these bad things. But a lot of Americans listened to what he said, and said, "Well, yes, that's bad. But it's better than the current situation," or "It's bad. But I can't take any more of this." The border, they're watching what's happening, on the border now, and they say, "Well at least, when Trump was in, it was this," right?
So, I hear what everyone's saying. It was, "He did this." He's much better at -- President's much better -- I always say this, what he's talking about prospective things, or his record, rather than, talking about 2020, and the election, and that was stolen, or January 6, I think he's got a large record of accomplishments, he could have talked about, tonight, and ran on, which he didn't, and which, I was hoping to hear more of that.
But everybody, who's watched it out, on this CNN network, who may be wringing their hands, and saying, "This guy's terrible," they better get ready, because he may be the next President of the United States.
I will say, he did make news, at least in my opinion, on the abortion front, because every other candidate that I've heard, they've said, "I will vote, unceremoniously. I will support a total ban on abortion, at the federal level."
And president -- and former President Trump refused to say that. He said, "I will negotiate something that's best for the most amount of people." I mean, it seemed almost like he was going to try to go back to 15 weeks, or whatever it was, kind of under a lot of states, and not a six-weeks ban, like a lot of people asking for.
So, I did think that he -- and listen, he was a lot of the things you're saying. But in certain things, like, on the gun part, you talk about Christian, he kind of struck almost, I don't want to say, conciliatory tone, but.
And Van, on Russia, I think that the point that he made was, I don't think he's saying "I'm going to turn over Ukraine." I think it's much more of a -- listen, I'm a military. I think what happened, the invasion, needs to be stopped. It was unfettered aggression, by Vladimir Putin. But, at a certain point, we got to figure out, like, what's the endgame here, for the world? How's it going to end?
COOPER: Do you believe he can do it in 24 hours?
JONES: I didn't say he was.
URBAN: Listen, I don't know if the President can do it, in 24 hours. But I don't know how it ends.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Do you believe the sign he showed (ph).
COOPER: I think everybody knows the President can't do it in 24 hours.
AXELROD: I mean, it's important--
URBAN: Yes, yes. But my simple point--
AXELROD: --it's important, to note that when the invasion happened, his first reaction was to call it "Genius."
URBAN: Well, yes. You heard him now. He said Putin made -- the biggest mistake he made was invading Ukraine, right? I mean, so it's not--
COOPER: Let's hear it from the Congressman.
URBAN: But, look, he'll do something about it (ph).
COOPER: Congressman, you are a supporter of the former President.
REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): Look, a couple of things. First of all, Town Halls are for the voters, not for the press, not for the person, who's the moderator. Kaitlan spent more time interjecting her own viewpoints, or her own views, on the situation.
COOPER: Excuse me. Those were actually facts, though.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Fact-checks.
DONALDS: Hold, hold, hold, hold.
DONALDS: Now, are you -- hold on, are you guys now going to interject here?
COOPER: Well is there if you--
DONALDS: Do I get a chance to speak now?
COOPER: Right. But if you're speaking falsely?
DONALDS: OK. Everybody, wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second.
COOPER: Those were facts.
DONALDS: The Town Hall is for the President, to speak, to the voters of New Hampshire, not for this back-and-forth, with the media.
COOPER: But that's not true.
DONALDS: That's number one.
COOPER: Who defined that?
DONALDS: Hold on. That's -- hold on. That's number one.
Number two, with respect to Ukraine, I totally disagree. He did not say he was just going to give over Ukraine, the way you intimate, Van. He did not say that.
JONES: He didn't say that--
DONALDS: What he said was -- Van? Van? Van?
JONES: He did not say that he would -- he will stand for a victory.
DONALDS: Van, what he said was--
JONES: For a victory.
DONALDS: --is that he would actually look for a solution, to end it quickly. He put 24 hours on it. But let's be very clear. What Joe Biden has done has been a disaster. Because initially, with Ukraine, Joe Biden--
DONALDS: --wanted to give Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right out of dodge. He wanted to give him a plane ride. And it wasn't until people, in Moscow, and Ukraine, here in the United States, said this invasion is wrong that Joe Biden reversed course.
JONES: Do you want a victory in Ukraine?
DONALDS: Well hold on, there's a couple things.
JONES: Do you want a victory in Ukraine?
FARAH GRIFFIN: Absolutely, at some point (ph).
DONALDS: I'm just trying to respond to everything that's been coming up, on the table.
DONALDS: Last thing, let me say this. We spent 20, 22, 23 minutes, talking about January 6. We could have been talking about a whole lot of other issues, instead of doing that, for the first half hour or so.
But let me be very clear. What was said in his Town Hall, about National Guard troops that were authorized, by Kaitlan, was wrong.
I'm on the Oversight Committee. I was in two hearings, on January 6. It was testified in Oversight that Donald Trump authorized National Guard troops, on January 4. He followed up in a call with then Acting Secretary of Defense, on January 5, trying to see where the deployment was, on those troops.
That is testimony, in the Oversight Committee. Everybody testified, at Oversight Committee, when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House, except one organization, and that was the Capitol Police. COOPER: Did you read the Secretary of Defense's book?
DONALDS: But Nancy Pelosi would not allow that. I'm telling--
DONALDS: Well, look, I'm telling you what was testified to--
COOPER: And what Kaitlan -- right.
DONALDS: --in the Oversight Committee under oath.
COOPER: But let me just correct you.
DONALDS: It's what I'm telling you.
COOPER: Because what Kaitlan was saying was what the former Secretary of Defense--
COOPER: --wrote in his book. He said the President did not order--
DONALDS: I am telling you what was--
FARAH GRIFFIN: Can I just add one thing?
DONALDS: --what he testified to, under oath.
COOPER: I understand that.
FARAH GRIFFIN: But Congressman?
DONALDS: In the Oversight Committee.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Congressman, can I just add?
DONALDS: Yes, are the facts. Go ahead.
FARAH GRIFFIN: You do you acknowledge Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, correct?
DONALDS: Again, we're going to continue to talk about 2020?
FARAH GRIFFIN: No. I mean, it's a direct question.
DONALDS: Right? Now hold on. Let me tell you -- let me tell you--
COOPER: We are -- we are going to continue to talk about that.
DONALDS: --let me tell you -- let me tell you why most voters are frankly kind of tired of you all bringing this up. Inflation, border. COOPER: You don't have the courage to express your opinion on that one (ph)?
DONALDS: Can I talk here? America, can I talk to America?
FARAH GRIFFIN: I'm a Republican voter.
DONALDS: I want to talk to America.
FARAH GRIFFIN: I'm a Republican voter. You acknowledge we lost the election?
DONALDS: Voters want to talk about inflation, the border, fentanyl, the debt ceiling, foreign policy. If you want to talk about the 2020 election?
FARAH GRIFFIN: American democracy.
DONALDS: Let's talk about this. We do know that Marc Elias was in many jurisdictions, suing, to actually change election procedures, which by the way is at the hands of the State Legislature, in every state, according to the Constitution, not in, in the hands of courts, not in the hands of the Supreme Court. The State Legislature. We do know that to be a fact. We do know that truth--
COOPER: You won't state your opinion about actually -- factually what happened in the 2020 election?
DONALDS: You guys want me to make a statement -- and this is -- frankly, let me tell you right now. This is what's frustrating to a lot of--
COOPER: No. I want you to just speak the truth.
DONALDS: This is what's frustrating to a lot of people. You want me to state it the way you want me to state it.
COOPER: No, I don't.
DONALDS: I am telling you the ideas and the reasons behind--
COOPER: I want you to just to answer the question. Do you believe--
DONALDS: --why certain people look at the--
COOPER: Do you believe the election was rigged?
DONALDS: --2020 election the way that they do.
COOPER: I understand why some people believe it.
DONALDS: Now, moving forward into 2024--
COOPER: Do you?
DONALDS: --a couple of things are very, very clear. The nation is a mess. Our border is overrun. Inflation is crippling every family, Republican, Democrat, Independent. Those are the facts of the matters in 2024.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Do you think -- do you think -- do you think--
AXELROD: And Congressman, can I--
DONALDS: Not 2020.
AXELROD: --can I just ask you a question?
DONALDS: Not 2020. Go ahead.
AXELROD: Can I ask you a question?
AXELROD: And I understand that you don't feel that the last election, and questions, about the last election, and the insurrection, should be part of the discussion now.
But since the President was there, since he was the one, who was propagating these stories, about a rigged election, and he repeated it again, tonight, since he was the one, who rallied the crowd that stormed the Capitol that he celebrated tonight? I want to ask you this one thing.
Because, I was interested when he was talking about his case that was decided yesterday, by a jury, and he said "Well, that was rigged. It was a Clinton-appointed judge."
A lot of Trump-appointed judges, throughout these allegations, of election rigging, should they be trusted because they're Trump- appointed judges? Or are they rigged too?
DONALDS: Listen, every candidate that runs for office, everyone? I've run for office. You're allowed to contest an election. We all have that ability.
DONALDS: You have the ability to go to court and do that, and all those types of things.
AXELROD: And when a decision is rendered?
DONALDS: He's had the ability to do it. Right now, he was making a statement, very clearly, about how he still feels about the 2020 elections. But he's also looking for, prospectively.
The point I'm making is Kaitlan didn't want to do that. She wanted to hang in, and continue to talk about the 2020 election--
FARAH GRIFFIN: No, it's not.
JONES: Wait a second. DONALDS: --until she got the answers she wants to.
JONES: Anderson? Anderson?
DONALDS: Let's be very clear on that one.
JONES: Listen, I want to say, on Kaitlan's behalf, she did a masterful job, of fact-checking a lie machine, in real-time, in front of millions of people. It is very, very difficult, to do what she did. Nobody's going to do it perfectly.
But it is incredibly difficult, to talk to somebody, who is going to say things. Sometimes, they're true. Sometimes, they're not true. I don't think anybody here thinks of Donald Trump as a paragon of truth- telling.
I thought Kaitlan did a masterful job. She's the matador against the bull.
FARAH GRIFFIN: While facing sexist attacks, throughout.
FARAH GRIFFIN: And I mean, I'm someone, who cares about securing the border, lowering inflation. Why can't Ron DeSantis do that? Why can't Chris Sununu do that? There's a plethora of Republican candidates, who want to do the things, for our country that I know you want to do. And that I want to do. And David Urban wants to do.
DONALDS: And it fits (ph).
FARAH GRIFFIN: Why is it a man, who's twice impeached, who has been indicted, who has been just held liable for sexual abuse? That's the best and only person, who just once again, called a woman a sexist name (ph).
DONALDS: I'm going to leave the indictment alone, for a second.
DONALDS: But let's be very clear, the reason why, is because Republican voters want him to come back. They don't--
FARAH GRIFFIN: Because he's lied to them, incessantly.
DONALDS: Hold on. Stop! Stop! Stop! He actually did the job. You know that. And frankly, he did the job better than the current President, right now. And that is indisputable.
COOPER: Which job?
DONALDS: Name the issues. Donald Trump did it better. URBAN: I would say this--
JONES: How about infrastructure? We had Infrastructure Week every week!
URBAN: You mean the bloated bill that they passed through?
JONES: Yes you had--
DONALDS: That they still haven't even started constructing on, Van?
JONES: I mean the zero bill--
DONALDS: Come on, man!
JONES: --that you've passed.
DONALDS: Come on, Van!
JONES: And you had Infrastructure Week every -- every week, for four years.
AXELROD: Is there anything that the--
JONES: And never got one done.
AXELROD: Look, I accept that -- I think that he probably -- if I were his political advisers, I actually would say, "This is what we wanted. We had -- we got what we wanted." And he was talking to his--
AXELROD: --he was talking to his base, and he rallied his base. If I were his lawyers, I'd be deeply concerned, about what--
FARAH GRIFFIN: Well--
AXELROD: --what he -- what he said, tonight.
But is there anything that -- is there anything that would exclude him, even if he is someone, who Republican voters want, back in office, because of the things he did, in terms of policy? Like, could he go out and kill somebody? Could he?
Is there anything that would be -- that you would consider beyond the pale? Or would you just set everything aside, and say, "Well, this is what people want. So, those peccadilloes, we're going to let alone."
DONALDS: At the end of the day, this is always going to be at the hands of the voters. The voters are going to decide, who they want to support. Polling would dictate that they want to support Donald Trump, by a wide margin, in the Republican Party. I will also say the ABC polling is pretty clear that Americans writ-large want to support him, over Joe Biden. Period.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: So, polling has come up. So, I now have to have to intervene. No, no that--
DONALDS: Go ahead.
AXELROD: Oh, yes, we have a professional.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: --that poll was a little bit of an outlier. But it's not out of the realm of possibility that we will see other data, like this, because we know that voters do feel disappointed, in Joe Biden.
However, Donald Trump has been laying, in my view, a little bit low, over the last couple of months. And it will be very interesting to see, do voters, who may have forgotten what it felt like for Donald Trump to be in the spotlight?
SOLTIS ANDERSON: Do they come away from this feeling, excited and energized? Maybe some Republican base voters will, as we heard the folks in that room. But I suspect a lot of Independents will not come away, feeling energized.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: They will feel exhausted. "I don't want this rerun."
COOPER: David, very quickly.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: And that's going to be a problem.
URBAN: So, that's what I was just going to say.
COOPER: Then we got to go to a break.
URBAN: Look, Axe, you said, if you left tonight, you'd say, he did a great job, because he spoke to his base.
AXELROD: I didn't say he'd do a great job.
URBAN: No, no, but I'm telling he spoke to his base.
AXELROD: I said--
URBAN: He talked to one (ph).
AXELROD: Well, he spoke to his base, yes.
URBAN: I think we're in the middle of the field, right? We're in that 20-yard line. We're scrum, where we're trying to get the votes. And I think the President, if he wants to win, right, he's going to need to speak to those suburban Pittsburgh voters, suburban, the Philly voters.
AXELROD: See, but I think his calculation--
URBAN: How do you get those?
AXELROD: --I think his calculation is, "If I get the nomination, I can beat Biden," just as I think Biden's calculation is, "If I get the nomination, I can beat Trump."
URBAN: Yes, but--
AXELROD: And so I don't think he's worried about those people, you're talking about, right now.
URBAN: Yes. But he needs to.
And, by the way, just real quickly, I want to echo what Van said. It's very tough to kind of keep the President on track. And I don't think Kaitlan was trying to interrupt. I think she was trying to keep the train on the tracks, and did a pretty good job.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break.
Coming up next, more fact-checking, with some of what we heard, tonight, including what Congressman Donalds said, about the response, on January 6, as our special CNN Town Hall coverage continues.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
As we said, at the top, the former President, Donald Trump, had a lot to say tonight. Many, many of the things he said, of course, were objectively false, a torrent of falsehoods, even, from the get-go.
CNN's Sara Murray joins us now. Her job, tonight, is fact-checking.
So, Sara, I'm not going to ask you to fact-check everything he said that was false, because we only have a couple more hours. But what strikes you?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think one of the things, off of the top, was that we heard former President Trump, again, say the election was rigged, and talk about ballot-stuffing.
And look, the reality is the election was not rigged. Biden won by more than 7 million votes. And that ballot-stuffing claim? That was also bogus.
Here's Trump's false claim, on this, tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A lot of the people in this audience, and maybe a couple that don't, but most people understand what happened. It was a rigged election. And it's a shame that we had to go through it.
COLLINS: Can you publicly acknowledge that you did lose the 2020 election?
TRUMP: Let me -- let me just go on. If you look at through the vote, 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 that what happened, I think, it's a very sad thing, for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now, there is just no basis, for this claim. It is a lie. We have heard Trump claim before that there was ballot-stuffing, by election workers, in Georgia. It has been debunked, including by Republican election officials, in Georgia.
There is no sign any illegality, like this, occurred, on a large scale. And multiple former Trump officials, including Trump's own former Attorney General, Bill Barr, have said there was not sufficient fraud, to change the outcome, of the 2020 election, Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, and that true the vote group is a group of unserious right-wing activists.
TAPPER: It is not some sort of objective election board. It's amazing to hear them cited, as some sort of source!
Trump also claimed, he offered to send troops, to the Capitol, on January 6, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned him down. I don't think that's true. Sara?
MURRAY: No. Not the case. I mean, Trump has tried to blame former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, for the violence, on January 6. He's falsely claimed he ordered the National Guard of the Capitol.
So, here's Trump's attempt, to rewrite history, tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: He testified--
TRUMP: Chris Miller wrote a book. And he's a fantastic guy. And he was ready to go. They turned him down.
If you look the Mayor, of Washington, D.C., lovely lady, she said, "We don't want to -- we don't like the look."
Nancy Pelosi said, "Oh, we don't like to look."
If they would have had just -- I offered them 10,000 soldiers. I said -- it could be 10. It could be more. But I offered them specifically 10,000 soldiers. If they would have taken 500 soldiers, you wouldn't have had the problem. They turned it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Here is the reality. The House Speaker is not in charge, of Capitol security. That's the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the Capitol Police, and, at the time of the riot, would have approved requests, for National Guard assistance.
And here is former acting Defense Secretary, Chris Miller, telling the January 6 committee that he was never given an order, by Trump, to have 10,000 troops, ready to go to the Capitol, on January 6.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANUARY 6. LAWYER: To be crystal clear, there was no direct order from President Trump to put 10,000 troops to be on the ready for January 6? Correct?
CHRIS MILLER, FORMER ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER TRUMP: No. Yes, that's correct. There was no direct -- there was no order from the President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: So Jake, as you can see, these claims by Trump, about January 6, also false.
TAPPER: Sara Murray, thanks so much for that. Yes, I'm sure you're going to have more fact-checks for us, because there were more lies, than I could count, said by the former President, this evening.
Let's talk about one of the politically more impactful decisions, of his presidency, to put three conservatives, on the Supreme Court that would ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade, and what he had to say about that tonight.
Kaitlan Collins was trying to get him to say, whether he would sign a national abortion ban, if he were reelected. He wouldn't really take a position.
But here is what he said about overturning Roe v. Wade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I consider the other side to be radical, because the other side under Roe v. Wade, and other things, the other side, they're radical.
Because, they will -- remember the debate, with Hillary Clinton. They said, "Rip the baby out of the womb at the end of the ninth month. They will kill the baby in the ninth month."
If you look at that crazy Governor of Virginia from -- the former Governor, well, he said "No, the baby will be born, and then we'll decide essentially whether or not to execute the baby."
COLLINS: But Mr. President, can we talk about what you would do if you are--
TRUMP: No, but these are the radical people.
COLLINS: --if you are reelected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Obviously, he would rather talk about positions that Hillary Clinton never took, than his own position, which is not supported by polls. Just to be clear of the things he was saying, about Democrats, they were not true. Hillary Clinton did not say anything about ripping the baby out of the womb.
Let's just talk about the politics of this. Overturning Roe v. Wade is unpopular, with the American people.
TAPPER: It's unpopular, with the voters, he needs, to win the presidency, should he get the nomination. He doesn't want to talk about this. I don't know that he's found a way to talk about it.
BASH: No, that was pretty clear, tonight. And, understandably, there's so much to unpack in this Town Hall.
But if he does get the nomination, which is still a big-if? We're very, very early in the process here. He will have to face a Democratic president, who has a White House, and a campaign, who looks at the 2022 midterms, and believes that this is Exhibit A, B and C of why? Yes, the economy is troubled. Yes, that there are questions about Joe Biden. But they still believe that the abortion issue will drive voters, out to the polls, to vote for Joe Biden, and to vote against Donald Trump.
If you take all the other issues, maybe even all the other noise, and you put them aside? That is still front and center, in voters' minds.
And that answer, as you said, clearly, if you are the Trump campaign, need some refining. I don't know they can refine it, before the end of the primary season. Perhaps he will do it if, he gets the general.
TAPPER: Not even refining. I mean, he said "I did that." "I did that." And that is not what Michigan, Wisconsin--
BASH: Politically refined. Yes.
TAPPER: --Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania swing voters want.
PHILLIP: It seemed to me that the goal, tonight, for Trump was to reinforce, to conservative voters, that he supports the overturning of Roe versus Wade. Now, he did that to a point that might have actually produced quite a number of general election ads, if he makes it to the general election.
But I think that's what they were trying to do, because part of the context here is that in the weeks, leading up to this, some of the reporting had been the Trump's aides were kind of saying, or Trump was saying to his aides, privately, that people like Ron DeSantis had perhaps gone too far, with the six-week abortion ban.
And when you saw Kaitlan pushing him, on the dates, would he sign a federal abortion ban, what weeks would he support for an abortion ban? He refused to answer those questions about the specifics.
They wanted to double down, on "I support overturning Roe versus Wade" without getting him tied down, on anything concrete. That is, by the way, happening, right now, in the States.
These are not hypothetical situations. And Trump would not give the public, a clear answer, about where he stands. And in that respect, from the Trump campaign, I'm sure that they viewed that as a victory in terms of what he went in, wanting to do, and how he executed that.
COATES: Well, the phrase that he kept using was it gave -- the Dobbs decision, he calls it a great victory. He claimed, of course, that he had taken credit for it, although again, it was the Supreme Court that actually ruled, not the President of the United States. But he--
TAPPER: Yes. He litmus-tested the three picks.
COATES: He certainly did.
COATES: But the issue he was saying was it gave pro-lifers something to negotiate with.
Now, why that is so disingenuous is one, there were already trigger laws that were on the books that were created to be reinstated, or implement new abortion-related bans, should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned.
Number two, of course, the negotiation, he presumes, does not happen, because you have Mifepristone, now, on blade (ph), the virtual chopping block.
You've got abortion bans, under partisan majorities, and state legislatures, where there has been complaints that there's no room to negotiate, on these very principles.
And so, this perception that the Dobbs decision, by returning to the States, somehow affords a greater opportunity, to negotiate, is one, not what the Supreme Court really was thinking -- while they may have thought about it, but they didn't actually display it well, but also not what's really happening on the ground.
COATES: And I think we can't lose sight of that.
TAPPER: One other thing I want to -- I want to talk about is, is his defense of the people that were storming the Capitol.
TAPPER: Four Trump supporters died that day, including one that was shot, by a police officer, who was protecting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He did his job. They were bursting in.
Here is what he had to say, about that woman, who was led to the Capitol, by Donald Trump's lies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Over 140 officers were injured that day.
TRUMP: And a person named Ashli Babbitt was killed.
TRUMP: You know what? She was killed. And she shouldn't have been killed. And that thug that killed her, there was no reason to shoot her. At blank-range, cold-blank range, they shot her. And she was a good person. She was a patriot. There was no reason to--
COLLINS: One person who was there--
TRUMP: There was no reason. And he went on television, to brag about the fact that he killed her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: OK. I mean, again, fact-check. He did not go on television, to brag about the fact that he killed her. He's not a thug. He's a police officer. He was completely cleared, in the incident. He was protecting the House Speaker.
Donald Trump, his lies, and the lies of his minions, incited this crowd. They violently burst in to the Capitol. And yet, here he is, taking the side of the mob!
KING: Because, he believes with his voters, this that -- he has convinced his voters, to believe this. And now, he's going to stick with it. Again, if you were -- if any of you, out there, watching, thought "Maybe he will pivot, maybe he will change," he will not change. He is who he is. He wants to minimize this day.
And you heard Congressman Donalds saying, "Why do you keep asking about the 2020 election? Why do you keep asking about January 6?" We have to keep asking. If he is going to be the Republican nominee?
KING: Or at least now the formidable front-runner, for the Republican nomination?
KING: They tried to steal the country. They tried to steal the country. They tried to undermine the foundation of everything.
We can talk about abortion. We can talk about taxes. We can talk about infrastructure. We can talk about swimming pools in America, if you want to regulate those. You can't have an America without a democracy. Nothing else matters, if you take away the foundation. That day was about trying to steal the foundation.
TAPPER: And just to note on Congressman Donalds, and I'm sure Anderson will bring this up, but he is one of the members of Congress, who voted, to disenfranchise, all of the voters of Arizona, and all of the voters of Pennsylvania, based on these same deranged election lies.
We have a lot more ahead. We're going to be joined by a potential Republican presidential candidate. The current Governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, is with us. Stay with us.
COOPER: Potential 2024 presidential candidate, and former New Jersey Republican governor, Chris Christie, tweeted a short time ago, about tonight's CNN Town Hall. Quoting now, "Donald Trump refused to say tonight that he wanted Ukraine to win the war with Russia. More proof that he continues to be Putin's puppet."
Joining us now, another Republican critic, of the former President, who's also been mentioned with respect to 2024. New Hampshire Governor, Chris Sununu.
Governor, I appreciate you being with us.
The former President got a pretty warm welcome, from the voters, in that hall, tonight. Did he say anything that you think will help him get the nomination?
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Oh, no, no. And no one should be surprised by what we heard tonight.
It was kind of the same old thing, the same old regurgitation, whether -- he had a chance to move on from 2020. He didn't do it. He had a chance to own some of the issues of January 6, what it was, whatever -- what his role there was. He didn't do it. He had a chance to take shots at Joe Biden. He didn't do it.
So, if you're an Independent voter, if you're a suburban mom, all these voters that Republicans are trying to bring back, into the mix, I don't see any of them being convinced by anything, because it was just kind of a same old regurgitation.
And there was no energy. There's no fire. There's no positivity. There was nothing exciting. He looked kind of weak. He looked tired. He looked like he was on the defensive, and angry, and bitter. And I think we can all agree America is trying to move on from angry and bitter.
So, he didn't really make a case. He just kind of -- kind of kept reiterating his same old arguments. And that's history.
COOPER: Do you think there any Republicans, in that field, who are currently running, who actually know how to run against him, or stand on the stage and debate him, if he was willing to do that? Do you think you know how to run against him?
SUNUNU: Well look -- sure. Well, look, when folks get up, and try to debate Donald Trump, on policy, you're missing the point. You got to debate Donald Trump, on him, on his character, on the flaws that he brings to the table, on his weakness, on the fact that he is a loser.
And I, as a Republican, as a four-time winning Republican, I'm tired of losing. We should have won in 2022. We lost. We should have won in 2020. We got everything wiped -- our clock clean, because of his leadership, and his message isn't getting it done.
I supported him, in 2016. I supported him, in 2020. But he's a three- time loser, going on to be a four-time loser. And it's not just him that I'm worried about. I'm worried about the U.S. Senate races. I'm worried about the governorships. I'm worried about the ballot that he affects, up and down the ticket.