Former US President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared live on CNN, a network he has long regarded as his adversary. During the one-hour town hall session, Trump repeated his unfounded claims about the 2020 election, insulted and ridiculed a former magazine columnist who he was found guilty of sexually abusing and defaming.
Despite previously labeling the network as “fake news” while in the White House, Trump answered questions on various topics including the Ukraine conflict, the debt limlit, immigration, and his numerous legal battles.
“Most people understand what happened was a rigged election,” Trump said of his 2020 presidential election defeat by Joe Biden.
He stated that if he were to win another term in office, ,he would grant clemency to a significant number of his supporters who have been imprisoned for their involvement in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
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“They were there with love in their heart,” he said.
Trump, 76, is currently the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He declined to fully pledge his acceptance of the outcome of the next presidential election when question by CNN anchor Kaitlin Collins, who served as the moderator for the event.
“If I think it’s an honest election, absolutely I would,” Trump said.
Trump inserted himself into the heated discussions between the Biden administration and Congress regarding the increase of the US debt limit. He encouraged Republican lawmakers to oppose the increase unless Democrats also agree to make reductions in government spending.
“I say that the Republicans out there congressmen, senators, if they don’t give you massive cuts, you’re gonna have to do a default,” he said, before quickly adding that he sees such a scenario as unlikely.
The US government has never purposely defaulted on its debt, and experts caution that the consequences of doing so could be catastrophic.
Regarding Ukraine, Trump acknowledged that Russian President Vladimir Putin made a significant error by invading the country. However, he refrained from stating a preference for who he wanted to emerge victorious in the conflict or whether he would continue providing military assistance to Ukraine.
“I do not think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled,” he said.
He criticized Biden’s administration of immigration policies and asserted that Thursday, the expiration date of a Covid-era policy, would be a day of shame along the US-Mexico border.
“You’re going to have millions of people pouring into our country,” he said, suggesting that he would reinstitute a policy of separating families at the border.
“When you have that policy, people do not come,” he said. “I know it sounds harsh.”