Trump ignites fresh controversy after outlandish primetime appearance on CNN

Trump said he would be able to instantly end the Ukraine war - just one of his outlandish claims, as Robert Moore reports

If Donald Trump's performance last night provides an early guide to the 2024 presidential campaign, my advice is to hide in a dark room for the next 18 months. Or head for the hills and disconnect from social media.

Just a day after he was found liable for sexual assault by a New York jury, the former president was last night hosted by CNN in New Hampshire and given a national stage.

Trump used it to unleash a 70-minute untamed torrent of misinformation. Wild conspiracy theories, multiple falsehoods, angry accusations, and outlandish claims poured forth.

The CNN host, the highly regarded reporter Kaitlan Collins, tried to fact-check in real time, but she was overwhelmed. It was a primetime journalistic disaster for CNN.

It has ignited a new debate among news organisations about how to cover a candidate who is both a frontrunner and unmoored from any relationship to the truth.

Trump started off by denouncing his accuser, the former newspaper columnist E Jean Carroll, who says he attacked her in a changing room in the 1990s.

Donald Trump dismissed E. Jean Carroll. Credit: AP

He bitterly attacked the New York judge who oversaw the case. He swore on the life of his children that he had never met Carroll. He was just getting warmed up.

Trump claimed that he would end the Ukraine war in a day. Yes, in just 24 hours.

He repeated that the 2020 election has been stolen and millions of votes had been manipulated.

He insisted that the crowd that marched on the Capitol on January 6th were proud Americans, with love in their hearts. He strongly hinted he would pardon many of the rioters and insurrectionists.

He declared that there were 700 million guns in America, and claimed that the answer to mass shootings was to "harden" schools and arm teachers.

What made the TV event especially challenging was that the audience consisted only of Republican or undecided voters. Trump was cheered to the rafters.

The former president was in his element and he ran rings around CNN and any attempt to hold him to account.

Some Republican critics are raising their heads above the parapet after watching the show. Chris Christie, a potential presidential candidate, tweeted that Trump was a Russian puppet.

Ron DeSantis, the Florida Governor, will likely throw his hat into the ring within the next few days, and may emerge as Trump's main challenger for the Republican nomination.

Judging by Trump's performance overnight, this is going to be a campaign filled with fire and fury, chaos and acrimony.

It certainly will not be uplifting or illuminating.

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