Donald Trump will face questions about E. Jean Carroll’s discovery of sexual abuse when he participates in a CNN town hall Wednesday night.
The town hall comes a day after a jury found him guilty of sexual assault and defamation, underscoring the former president’s mounting legal threats amid his bid to retake the White House next year.
CNN anchor Caitlan Collins will moderate a town hall at 8pm ET at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, where Trump will take questions from Republican voters in the early voting stage.
Town hall participants will press Trump on how he intends to run for president as he faces legal threats in several states. On Tuesday, a New York jury ruled that Trump sexually abused opinion columnist E. Jean Carroll 27 years ago, ordering the former president to pay $5 million in damages for battery and defamation claims.
Because Carroll’s case is a civil case, the jury verdict does not include criminal charges, but other investigations into the former president’s election lies and business practices could result in criminal convictions.
Last month, Trump pleaded guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with a hush-money scheme during the 2016 election in Manhattan. The former president faces possible criminal charges in Georgia over his efforts to sway the state’s 2020 election results, and a special counsel is investigating Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and his mishandling of classified documents.
Despite Trump’s numerous legal troubles, he continues to lead in polls of Republican primary voters. A Morning consultation survey Taken earlier this month, Trump has a 34-point lead over his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to formally launch his presidential campaign in the coming weeks.
Wednesday’s town hall marked the first appearance on CNN since the 2016 presidential campaign by Trump, who has repeatedly attacked him as “fake news.” The former president’s history with Collins has been particularly scrutinizing since the Trump administration once offered it blocked A then-White House correspondent at a 2018 press conference after he asked Trump “inappropriate” questions.
Wednesday’s town hall will put a spotlight on the media’s ongoing challenges in trying to cover up Trump and his enduring dominance of Republican voters as he continues to spread lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Some commentators criticized CNN for giving Trump such a large platform to repeat those lies that contributed to the deadly riot at the Capitol on 6 January 2021.
“It’s clear to me that CNN and a lot of the mainstream media haven’t learned their lesson from their coverage of Trump in 2016,” Tara Setmeyer, a former communications director for House Republicans, recently told the Guardian. “This, in my opinion, gives him back legitimacy at a time when he’s more extreme, out of control and his lies are more dangerous than ever.”