CNN’s New Hampshire town hall with former President Donald Trump Wednesday night may have done more to boost his chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination than anything that’s happened since the 2020 election.
Over and over again, a self-assured Trump lied and rewrote history. And the live studio audience — which seemed vocally pro-Trump, as if imported from Mar-a-Lago — ate it up.
But the event also elicited real news — news that unhappy GOP lawmakers will be dodging questions about for weeks. Here’s what we’re expecting they’ll be asked about:
- Trump said he was “inclined” to pardon “many” of the Jan. 6 rioters.
- He encouraged congressional Republicans to allow the nation to default if they don’t get the spending cuts they want — failing, of course, to mention that as president, he raised the debt ceiling without cuts several times.
- He pushed back on suggestions that a default would create an economic calamity. “It’s psychological,” Trump said. “It could be very bad. It could be maybe nothing.”
- He laughed off a civil jury finding him liable for sexual battery and defamation, bragging about how his poll numbers were growing because of it.
- He said he was “honored” to have paved the way for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. “Good things are happening,” he said — though he refused to answer questions about whether he would support a nationwide abortion ban.
- He left open the possibility of again separating migrant children from their parents to try to stop illegal immigration.
- He wouldn’t say whether he believed Vladimir Putin is a war criminal, or even if he wants Ukraine to win its war against Russia. “I don’t think in terms of winning and losing,” he claimed.
A version of this initially appeared in the May 11 Playbook newsletter.