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Tipsheet

Trump to Appear in CNN's Town Hall Event Next Week. Here's the Moderator.

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Former President Donald Trump is set to be a participant in a town hall event next week. CNN’s Kaitlin Collins will be its moderator. It’s the first time Trump will appear on CNN since 2016. Despite the politically motivated grand jury indictment from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over a hush-money scheme with a former porn star, Trump is the undisputed leader of the 2024 GOP field. 

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 Since the indictment, GOP voters wanting to run again has shot through the roof, which is also precisely what Democrats want: they view Trump as a weaker opponent. There are a lot of legal shenanigans engulfing the former president. The Jean Carroll defamation trial is ongoing, though Trump has no intentions of testifying or appearing in that circus. Carroll is the woman who accused Trump of rape in 1995-96.  We’ll see if he’s calm and collected or a bull in a China closet (via CNN): 

“CNN This Morning” anchor Kaitlan Collins will moderate the event at St. Anselm College, which will air at 9 p.m. ET on May 10 and will feature the former president taking questions from New Hampshire Republicans and undeclared voters who plan to vote in the 2024 GOP presidential primary. 

This will be Trump’s first appearance on CNN since the 2016 presidential campaign. 

The CNN town hall comes as Trump has quickly emerged as the frontrunner in the Republican field for president in 2024. A handful of Republicans have entered the 2024 race so far, though Trump’s biggest potential rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is still weighing a possible campaign. Trump’s campaign and political allies have continued to ramp up their attacks on DeSantis as the former president has racked up congressional endorsements, including from Florida Republicans who routinely work with DeSantis. 

But the former president is running to retake the White House at the same time that he’s been indicted in New York and faces additional legal peril in Washington and Georgia. 

Trump pleaded not guilty last month to 34 felony criminal charges of falsifying business records in Manhattan, in a case stemming from hush money payments made during the 2016 campaign to women claiming extramarital affairs with Trump, which he has denied.

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As for future GOP debates, Trump is so far ahead of the gang that he might skip the first two bouts with his Republican challengers (via NYT): 

The leading Republican candidate for president, Donald J. Trump, is likely to skip at least one of the first two debates of the 2024 Republican presidential nominating contest, according to five people who have discussed the matter with the former president. 

Last month, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, announced that Fox News would host the first G.O.P. primary debate in Milwaukee in August. The second debate will be held in Southern California at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. 

In private comments to aides and confidants in recent weeks, Mr. Trump has made it clear that he does not want to breathe life into his Republican challengers by sharing the stage with them. Mr. Trump has led his nearest rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, by around 30 percentage points in recent polls. All other contenders are polling in single digits. 

Granted, this is based on conversations with aides and others in Trump land. Who knows what could happen as Trump could call an audible and see this as a prime opportunity to disqualify those who have announced their candidacies. In 2016, Jeb Bush’s campaign got into an internal tussle over whether they should debate Trump one-on-one to curb the Trump surge. There are arguments for both sides regarding debate participation, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the former president opts to skip at least one of the early debates. It does give a lot of attention to candidates who would otherwise fizzle out, though that will probably happen anyway.

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