Mary Trump explains how Kaitlan Collins should have handled ex-president at CNN town hall

Trump’s neice blames audience for enabling former president, making it tough for Collins to shut him down

Namita Singh
Monday 15 May 2023 11:13 BST
CNN’s anchors lead horrified reaction to Trump town hall

Mary Trump says that the only way to hold her uncle Donald Trump to account is by pitting him against a person who is willing to be “very blunt about who he is” and tell him “to shut up” when he is lying.

The niece of the former president made the remarks while appearing on a podcast with Molly Jong-Fast, following her uncle’s town hall on CNN last week. During his first appearance on the network since 2016, Mr Trump repeatedly lied about the 2020 election, as well as praising rioters who attacked police officers and damaged the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection.

Mr Trump, who lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden and whose supporters then attempted to prevent Congress from ratifying the result, was pressed on his election claims by moderator Kaitlan Collins.

Yet Mr Trump steadfastly refused to acknowledge the fact that he had lost, despite multiple corrections from Collins, who covered his former administration for CNN and previously worked at the conservative Daily Caller website co-founded by former Fox News star Tucker Carlson.

Mr Trump’s niece, who was among those criticising CNN for hosting the town hall, called the event “anti-American” and blamed the audience for enabling the former president, making it tough for Collins to shut him down.

“He called Kaitlin Collin ‘you are a nasty woman’ and the crowd cheered,” said the show host Molly Jong- Fast, as she asked Ms Trump to explain the audience’s response.

“I think it’s less about his ability [to connect with the crowd]. He is literally who he is. It’s not nuance. It’s not strategic,” she said, emphasising the importance of understanding his supporters so “they get completely cordoned off beyond participating in casting one vote”.

Ms Trump, who had earlier slammed the network for giving a platform for “an authoritarian wannabe to lie constantly while an audience full of his followers applauded”, explained that a political adversary is more likely to be able to shut the former president down than a journalist when he indulges in lies.

“I don’t know that a journalist could do it or that a journalist who would do it... would be allowed to do it. It would have to be somebody running against him,” she suggested.

That role could be played by a fellow Republican who realises “that his or her political future is much less important than stopping him”, she argued, or by “a Democrat who understands what’s at stake”.

She said ultimately what was required was someone willing to call Mr Trump out as bluntly as possible. “It’s very simple,” she said. “You’re lying. You lost the popular vote in 2016. You lost the election in 2020 by five million more votes than you lost in 2016. Yet you perpetuate this big lie.

“Do you understand how destructive that is to the democracy you purport to want to lead again? You’re responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans because of your willful and malignant incompetence, you know, on and on and on. And you don’t let up.

“He calls you a nasty person and you say: ‘Granted, but answer the f***ing question.’”

She said that Collins’ job was made “harder” by the audience as she called Mr Trump’s supporters a “bigger problem”, not just in terms of the “danger they represent, but in terms of how it emboldened him to have the worst things he said, including most of his lies, cheered to that degree”.

“But you need somebody who is just willing to tell him: ‘Shut up, answer the question, or literally we’ll just shut it down because you’re lying. And we cannot allow you to continue to lie to the American people.’”

She argued that an interviewer needs to communicate to Mr Trump that “you don’t respect his power, that he’s just a candidate in this context, and he’s a danger”.

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