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Trump Town Hall triumph

Donald Trump triumphed at the CNN New Hampshire Town Hall event on May 10. But did CNN take a dive to distract from the border?

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On Wednesday night (May 10), Donald J. Trump took part in CNN’s Town Hall event in New Hampshire. The motives of CNN’s current CEO, Chris Licht, are as clear as mud by now. Regardless of that, Trump triumphed over CNN and all his detractors, and has virtually assured himself of the nomination. But at least one commentator is very much afraid he lent himself to a dangerous distraction.

CNN set Trump up

Did CNN’s Chris Licht expect to use the Trump Town Hall to recast his network as a neutral, thoughtful observer? Some observers suspect so. But he ruined any chance of that by assigning Kaitlan Collins to moderate. This morning-show hostess is the very definition of Dr. Steve Turley’s favorite term: “left-wing activist disguised as a journalist.” She so angered then-President Trump that the White House Press Office banned her from a subsequent press conference. Outgoing White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had her number during the transition, and said so. One assigns such a person as “moderator” only if one wants sparks to fly. And sparks flew – setting such a fire that CNN wound up cutting their broadcast five minutes short. (More below.)

On the night in question, she wore a white pantsuit – a sartorial stunt that every Democratic woman in Congress routinely pulled during Trump’s State of the Union addresses. She might have gone into the event with an overconfidence borne of Mr. Licht’s expressed plans for her. (He had planned to offer her a 9:00 p.m. slot, no matter what happened at Town Hall, according to The New York Post and Mediaite.)

She also came prepared to assert several narratives that grew in the aftermath of the January 6 Event. But she was not prepared to have people correct her, both during and after the Town Hall event.

Collins tries to play “gotcha.”

Collins concentrated on six topics she thought would embarrass Trump:

  1. Why did Trump take documents from the White House and repeatedly ignore subpoenas to return them?
  2. What has he to say for himself now that a New York jury has held him liable for sexual battery and defamation of one E. Jean Carroll?
  3. How will he ensure victory for Ukraine in their war with Russia? Or does he plan to hand over Ukraine to Russia?
  4. Why did he build not more than fifty-five miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexican border?
  5. Would he, or would he not, accept the outcome of another election, no matter how it ran? Obviously this question concerned the Election of 2020, which Trump has never truly conceded.
  6. Why did he take three hours to tell the January 6 rioters to go home?

Every one of those questions is loaded. Worse, the premises for most of the questions are false.

Of classified documents and inappropriateness allegations

Trump pointed out, as to the Mar-a-Lago raid, that neither Joe Biden nor Barack Obama suffered raids on their homes. (They, too, stand accused of taking documents home – and Biden’s case goes back to his Senate days.) Collins retorted that the former president had taken documents he had no right to take. He asked politely for permission to speak. She gave it, but couldn’t resist taking snide digs at him while giving it. That provoked perhaps his one show of any kind of weakness: he called her “a nasty person.”

He went on to contest her claim that he had no right to the documents, saying the Presidential Records Act gives him that right. Furthermore, he says, criminal penalties do not apply to their retention, even if they remained classified. CNAV has been over this before – but of course cannot expect a leftist outlet ever to concede those points.

Concerning the case of Carroll v. Trump, that is now on appeal in the Second Federal Judicial Circuit. No one has stated the specific grounds for the appeal. But in answer to Collins, Trump pointed out many embarrassing things about Carroll that the judge wouldn’t admit into evidence. Among them: she called her black husband an ape, and keeps a cat named after a woman’s private part. But mainly he disavows any prior knowledge of her – much less that he actually accosted her in a fitting room of a top-brand New York department store!

Of Ukraine, the Mexican border, and the Election of 2020

Concerning Ukraine, he refused to set military victory for Ukraine as a victory condition. He said he would strive to stop the killing in that part of the world. To that end, he suggested that he could end the conflict in 24 hours, by negotiating with Putin and Zelensky. Apparently he did not see fit to mention the biological weapons development facilities in Ukraine. (The ones with American funding, and American direction, and American staffs.) But for her part, Collins never mention the Nord Stream sabotage.

Concerning the border wall, this tweet makes unclear where Collins got her 55-mile figure. Perhaps she means primary wall in places where no barriers previously existed. This tweet shows that Trump in fact completed 458 miles of primary and secondary wall.


Of course, that was before Joe Biden took office and ordered all wall contractors to down tools and go home.

Concerning the election, and the conduct of Officers of Election that night, their exchange turned into “He said, she said.” So that particular discussion solved nothing. But Trump did mention 51 intelligence agents signing off on a letter saying the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation. He did not mention the Twitter Files documentation of the suppression of that story. But of course two journalists, once loyal soldiers of the left, have documented that suppression.

Trump scores his greatest triumph

But in refuting Collins’ claims about the January 6 event, Trump scored his greatest triumph. Collins asked him why it took him three hours to tell January 6 “rioters” to go home. Said Trump: “I don’t believe it did. Oh, let me pull it out … I have to pull it out … “ And then he reached under his blazer and pulled out hardcopy screencaps of his final Twitter tweets.

For the record, here they are:

The timestamps on the tweets from January 6, belie Collins completely. For everyone’s information, the incursion into the Capitol happened between 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. So if Trump sent out a tweet at 2:38 advising people to stay peaceful – it didn’t take three hours. However, Trump did mention one tweet that Twitter took down. CNAV cannot verify that independently.


But Trump said one more thing that Collins must have found breathtakingly brazen – from her point of view. He said he would pardon most (but not all) of those convicted in the January 6 event or now languishing in jail awaiting trial. He did allow that some people let matters get out of control, so not everyone would be eligible for a pardon. But then he mentioned the Antifa and BLM riots in the 2020 “Summer of Love.” Those events had far greater damage and far more casualties than the January 6 event.

This juncture was probably when CNN cut the broadcast short.

Other support for Trump

CNN convened a six-member after-action panel – including Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.). Daniels stood alone against the other six – and refuted their statements, point by point.

Notice that Van Jones complained that Trump “threw Ukraine under the bus,” though he didn’t say how. Collins had asked Trump whether he would continue the flow of American weapons and ammunition to Ukraine.

After that, CNN convened a voters’ panel of Trump supporters and undecided voters. To CNN’s obvious chagrin, the voters rounded on CNN. Among other things, they told CNN to get off the Election of 2020. In short, they blamed CNN, not Trump, for keeping that issue current.


Before the night was over, Chris Licht made a seemingly forced statement of support for Collins. Obviously Licht was trying to put the best face on events. Dylan Byers copied it:

Brian Stelter copied it next morning:

Other commentators weighed in yesterday morning, clearly believing that Trump cleaned CNN’s clocks.

Bitter reaction from the left

Reaction from the left was bitter and often scathing. The New York Times heaped scorn on Trump and his voters, trying to suggest they sealed Biden’s win. Basically the Times made the same pitch it made during four years of Trump. But recall that this is the same paper that carried Walter Duranty’s whitewash of Stalin’s Ukraine famine. True to that form, the Times played to their own base – which is the die-hard Democrat base. (And remember: Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman, authors of this piece, are not lawyers – and it shows.)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) reacted in anger at CNN, for letting the event get out of control, from her POV.


She did not exactly make clear what she expected Kaitlan Collins to do.

In reply, one user reminded her that even the FBI fell short of calling the January 6 event an insurrection.

J. D. Rucker, author of “America First Report” on Substack, criticized Trump for saying “stupid people” were destroying America. No, says Rucker, they’re not stupid – they are “cunning, manipulative, and possibly even demonic.” He seemed to lament that the Town Hall took place at all, in light of the Title 42 lapse and the heightened crisis at the southern border.


Obviously Donald Trump did himself very proud that night. Kaitlan Collins is not ready for prime time – and what Chris Licht is thinking, or whether he’s thinking, is unclear. The white pantsuit, evocative of Nancy Pelosi tearing up the State of the Union address, was a disastrous mistake. She turned in the worst possible performance, and obviously didn’t prepare to deal with a man like Trump. The CNN panels were worse. One man took on six egotistical “journalists” and knocked them off unassisted. And a panel of ordinary folks blamed CNN for something for which CNN wanted to blame Trump.

But J. D. Rucker could be correct, that this town hall was a distraction. Those disastrous performances were such obvious self-parody that CNN could indeed have scripted them in advance.


Rucker didn’t say what Trump should have done instead. But one wonders whether Trump would have done better to visit the Texas-Mexican border, with those Texas National Guardsmen deploying as if to repel an invasion. Much depends on what Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas really intends, and whether he’s serious. The former President could also have made considerably hay of piles of wall material discarded on the ground.

So far, Trump comes out of this event a virtual shoo-in for the nomination. His reelection will be another matter. The shameless manipulation of the news we see in the Twitter Files cannot happen this time. Whether other things that happened, like the Georgia Suitcase Scandal, can happen again, is another matter.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.


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