Controversy Surrounds Trump’s Appearance on CNN Town Hall

Former President Donald Trump made his first appearance on CNN since the 2016 presidential election in a town hall on Wednesday night.[0] The event was highly controversial, with many criticizing CNN for giving Trump a platform after he incited the Capitol riot, became the first former president placed under arrest, and was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation against writer E. Jean Carroll. During the town hall, Trump continued to claim that the 2020 election was rigged and defended his conduct around the January 6th Capitol riot.[1] He also refused to directly answer whether he wants Ukraine to win its war against Russia and promised to pardon a “large portion” of the people convicted of federal offenses for their participation in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol if he is re-elected.[2]

The event was moderated by CNN's Kaitlan Collins, who pressed Trump on several issues, including his false claims that the election was rigged and his involvement in the January 6th Capitol riot.[3] Collins also asked Trump twice whether he wanted Ukraine to win its war against Russia after Moscow launched an invasion in February 2022, but Trump would not respond directly.[4] He said, “I want everybody to stop dying, they're dying, Russians and Ukrainians.[5] And I’ll have that done in 24 hours.”[6]

Trump's appearance on CNN was met with criticism from many, including progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted, “CNN should be ashamed of themselves… The audience is cheering him on and laughing at the host.” Erin Perrine, a spokesperson for the pro-DeSantis group Never Back Down, said the event showed “Trump is stuck in the past.”[1]

The controversy surrounding the town hall comes just a day after a Manhattan jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll, awarding her $5 million in damages.[7] Trump had previously called Carroll a liar and claimed he never met her, but the court found otherwise.

Despite the backlash, CNN defended its decision to host Trump, stating that the former president is the current frontrunner in the 2024 Republican primary race. The event also drew high ratings, with Trump boasting beforehand that CNN was “rightfully desperate to get those fantastic Trump ratings back.”

Overall, Trump's appearance on CNN highlighted the ongoing divisions in American politics and the controversy surrounding his actions as president. While some continue to support him, others criticize his behavior and rhetoric, and the town hall served as a reminder of the polarizing figure that he remains in American politics.

0. “Trump Says His CNN Town Hall May Be ‘Total Disaster for All'” New York Magazine, 10 May. 2023,

1. “Trump returns to CNN for town hall filled with false claims” The Hill, 11 May. 2023,

2. “Trump says he would pardon a ‘large portion' of Jan. 6 rioters” NBC News, 11 May. 2023,

3. “CNN’s Donald Trump Town Hall Kicks Off With More Election Denial: ‘Unless You’re a Stupid Person, You Saw What Happened’” Yahoo Entertainment, 11 May. 2023,

4. “CNN's Kaitlan Collins tries, and tries, to rebut Trump's election lies” The Washington Post, 11 May. 2023,

5. “Cable carnage: Trump turns CNN town hall into televised combat” POLITICO, 11 May. 2023,

6. “Trump again refuses to concede 2020 election while taking questions from New Hampshire GOP primary voters” CNN, 11 May. 2023,

7. “Terrible Timing of Trump's Town Hall Has Allies Freaking Out” The Daily Beast, 10 May. 2023,

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