Former President Donald Trump again refused to acknowledge that he lost the 2020 election and said he would pardon many supporters convicted for their involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol in a contentious CNN town hall on Wednesday.
When asked by CNN host Kaitlan Collins whether he would acknowledge that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden in 2020, the Republican Trump launched a tirade, reasserting false claims that the election was rigged against him.
"It was a horrible election," Trump said, eliciting applause from some in attendance at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, an early nominating state that could prove critical in his bid for a second White House term in 2024.
Trump maintaining the course
His standing firm on his false claims about the 2020 elections defied concerns of Republican Party officials that his dwelling on his loss could cost the party support among Republican voters who want to move on and focus on more pressing issues. Biden has said he will seek a second term in 2024.
Trump declined to express regret for the deadly attack on the US Capitol when supporters sought to prevent Congress for ratifying the election result, and he repeated his plan to pardon individuals involved if voters return him to the White House in 2024.
"I am inclined to pardon many of them. I can't say for every single one because a couple of them probably they got out of control," Trump said.
Trump and Collins frequently interrupted each other with Collins challenging a number of the former president's false claims about the 2020 election and the attack on Jan. 6 which followed a speech he gave outside the White House that day.
"I've never spoken to a crowd as large as that, and that was because they thought the election was rigged. They were there with love in their heart. That was unbelievable, and it was a beautiful day."
The audience of New Hampshire Republicans and independent voters who plan to vote in the Republican primary were generally very supportive of Trump, giving him a standing ovation when he took to the stage.
Collins tried to fact-check Trump's assertions in real time, sometimes leading to the two talking over each other as Trump refused to back down.
Trump found guilty of sexual abuse
On Tuesday, a federal jury found Trump sexually abused Carroll in a department store dressing room in Manhattan in the 1990s, then harmed her reputation by describing her claims as "a hoax" and "a lie."
"What kind of a woman meets somebody and brings them up and within minutes, you're playing hanky panky in a dressing room?" Trump said, one of many disparaging comments about Carroll that elicited applause and laughter. He called her a "wack job."
After Tuesday's verdict, Carroll issued a statement saying: "Today, the world finally knows the truth ... This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed."
Trump stood by his remarks in a 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape in which he bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, suggesting stars could have their way with them. The comments were used against Trump at trial.
"And you would like me to take that back. I can't take it back because it happens to be true. I said, it's been true for 1 million years, approximately a million years, perhaps a little bit longer than that," Trump said. "I'm not referring to myself, I'm saying people that are famous, people that are stars."
Trump, who was absent throughout the two-week trial, was asked by an audience member what he had to say to voters who say it disqualifies him from being president.
"Well, there aren't too many of them because my poll numbers just came out. They went up," he said.