Former President Donald Trump declared on Wednesday he would end the conflict in Ukraine in just one day if he is re-elected to a second term in the White House.
During CNN’s town hall, Trump said he would secure peace by bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for talks.
“I want people to stop dying,” Trump told CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins, declining to get into which side he would like to see as a victor.
The second half hour of the town hall focused largely on the issues after Trump fended off questions about his 2020 “rigged” election claims, January 6, and writer E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit accusing Trump of rape during the first 25 minutes.
Trump also chastised the Biden administration for its handling of the economy, pledged to protect the Second Amendment, and said he would likely pardon most of the January 6 defendants.
The event is taking place at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, an early-voting state. CNN said Trump will face questions from Republicans and undeclared voters who plan to vote in New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary.
After years of calling CNN “fake news,” Trump explained in a Truth Social post on Tuesday why he agreed to make his first appearance on the cable news network since the 2016 campaign, saying that CNN offered “me a deal I couldn’t refuse!!!”
The network has faced calls for a boycott, as evidenced by the spread of the #BoycottCNN on Twitter, over its decision to host Trump for a town hall.
A number of people have criticized CNN, including one of its own analysts, former D.C. Metro Police officer Michael Fanone, who wrote an op-ed for Rolling Stone condemning the network for hosting the “guy who tried to get me killed” — a reference to January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.
A statement from CNN explained why the network set up a town hall with Trump.
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“CNN has a longstanding tradition of hosting leading presidential candidates for Town Halls and political events as a critical component of the network’s robust campaign coverage,” the network said. “This event with former President Trump will be the first of many for CNN in the coming months as CNN correspondents travel across the country to hear directly from voters in the runup to the 2024 presidential election.”
Donald Trump, the nation’s 45th president, is seeking a second term in office as President Joe Biden faces low poll numbers. Ahead of what may be a 2020 rematch, Trump is facing a flurry of legal challenges, including a case in Manhattan in which he became the first former U.S. president to be criminally charged. Trump has broadly denied any wrongdoing.
Polls examining the 2024 election generally show Trump with a significant lead over the rest of the GOP primary field. The next closest Republican is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not announced a campaign, but reportedly is moving in that direction.