Former President Donald Trump on May 11 dismissed criticism over his appearance on the CNN town hall.
“People are criticizing CNN for giving me a Forum to tell the TRUTH. I believe it was a very smart thing that they did, with Sky High Ratings that they haven’t seen in a very long time. It was by far the biggest Show of the night, the week, and the month!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social account on Thursday.
CNN’s town hall with Trump drew more than 3 million viewers Wednesday night, far more than the cable network usually draws on a weeknight. That figure included some 703,000 viewers in the 25 to 54 age demographic, according to Nielsen data.
Trump’s town hall, held at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, marked the former president’s first appearance on CNN since 2016.
It also marked Trump’s first major TV event for his 2024 presidential campaign.
“The Radical Left screamed, ‘Take it down, take it down,’ during the Show, because they saw that I was making so many important points on the Border, Energy Independence, the Afghanistan Catastrophe, Inflation, the Economy, Russia/Ukraine, and so much more,” Trump added in a separate post.
Trump added, “Many minds were changed on Wednesday night by listening to Common Sense, and sheer ‘Brilliance.’”
During the town hall, Trump laid out his 2024 agenda as he sparred with CNN moderator Kaitlin Collins. At one point during a heated exchange about the classified documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, the former president told Collins that she is a “nasty person.”
Trump also said he would pardon many of the protesters who were sentenced for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021 breach at the Capitol.
“I am inclined to pardon many of them,” Trump said. “I can’t say for every single one because a couple of them, probably, they got out of control.”
The former president also responded to a verdict by a New York jury finding him liable for sexual battery and defamation in a lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll. During the town hall, Trump said Carroll’s story was “fake” and “made up.”
“I have no idea who the hell she is. She’s a whack job,” Trump said.
On Thursday, Trump appealed the jury’s verdict, which had also awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.
Trump’s appearance has drawn mixed reactions from Congress, with some Democrats criticizing CNN for giving Trump airtime.
“CNN should be ashamed of themselves,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter. “They have lost total control of this ‘town hall’ to again be manipulated into platforming election disinformation, defenses of Jan 6th, and a public attack on a sexual abuse victim. The audience is cheering him on and laughing at the host.”
“CNN puts the nations biggest con man, grifter, misogynist, and threat to democracy on prime time for an hour,” wrote Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) on Twitter.
Many Republicans applauded Trump’s performance.
“President Trump dominated the CNN town hall tonight,” Republican Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia wrote on Twitter. “Make no mistake President Trump will be a fighter for hardworking West Virginians.”
“Trump CRUSHED his town hall last night,” Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter. “Can you imagine if [President Joe] Biden took unscripted questions from a hostile journalist? He WOULD NOT be able to handle it. The difference is clear. Biden needs to go and we need TRUMP back in the White House!!”
Apart from Trump, four other major Republicans have announced their 2024 bids—former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, biotechnology entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and conservative radio host Larry Elder.
So far, at least 50 House lawmakers, 10 senators, and two governors have chosen to endorse Trump for 2024, according to Ballotpedia’s endorsement tracker.
Last week, Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) announced his endorsement of Trump’s 2024 bid.
“America has been in a downward spiral since Biden took office just over two years ago,” Ogles wrote in a statement endorsing the former president. “Under President Trump, the U.S. experienced economic prosperity, robust foreign relations, and a return to patriotism.
“Our country is at a breaking point and I am confident that President Trump is the leader we need to get America back on track.”