Trump, Biden spar on immigration, healthcare: Debate timeline

Final presidential debate between the two rivals takes on more civilised tone than first meeting with 12 days to Election Day.

The last debate between the two candidates before the election on November 3 covered a wide range of issues [Chip Somodevilla/Pool/Reuters)
The last debate between the two candidates before the election on November 3 covered a wide range of issues [Chip Somodevilla/Pool/Reuters)
  • After last month’s chaotic debate, United States President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, took the stage again on Thursday night.
  • The two rivals sparred on coronavirus strategies, leadership styles, racism and climate change.
  • More than 45 million Americans have already voted in early ballots, according to the United States Elections Project tracker.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections 12 days before November 3. This is Jihan Abdalla and Saba Aziz.


Fact check: Biden on pre-existing conditions

Biden argued that Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will result in “over 110 million people” losing their pre-existing conditions under that law.
The truth is Biden is exaggerating that number significantly, according to the nonpartisan fact-checking group, FactCheck.org.

That figure represents the total number of Americans with pre-existing conditions, but “they wouldn’t all lose coverage, as the claim misleadingly suggests, barring highly unlikely circumstances,” the group points out.


Fact check: Trump on “super predators”

During his criticism of Biden’s past crime policies, Trump accused Biden of referring to African-American kids who were repeat crime offenders as “super predators” in the 1990s when Democrats were pushing “tough-on-crime” measures.

The problem is that Biden didn’t use that term. It was Trump’s previous Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton who uttered those words in 1996.


 


Fact check: Biden on fracking

Trump continued to accuse Biden of supporting a ban on “fracking,” a controversial method of drilling for oil and gas that environmentalists want to stop.

It’s a hot-button issue in battleground Pennsylvania, where the economy in some parts of the state has rebounded in recent years because of the fracking industry.

In reality, Biden has not called for an outright ban on fracking. He correctly defended himself during the debate by saying he has said he does not support new drilling permits on federal land, but has not argued for banning fracking.


Final question: What Trump, Biden would say to those who don’t vote for them

Moderator Kristen Welker asked each candidate to offer what they’d say at their inauguration to those Americans who didn’t vote for them on Election Day.

Trump: ”We have to make our country totally successful as it was before the plague came in from China. … Success is going to bring us together, we are on the road to success.”

He then added a dig at Biden saying, “If he gets in we will have a depression the likes of which we’ve never seen.”

A television screen broadcasts the second 2020 presidential campaign debate between Biden and Trump at The Abbey Bar in West Hollywood, California [Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]
Biden: “I will say I’m the American president, I represent all of you whether you voted for or against me. … We’re going to choose to move forward because there are enormous opportunities to get better.”

And Biden also got in his own dig at Trump: “What is on the ballot here is the character of the country, decency, honesty, respect. …I’m going to make sure you get that,” adding that it’s not something Americans have gotten “in the last four years.”


Biden hits Trump hard on race

Following Trump’s repeated claim that he’s “done more for Black” Americans than any president except Abraham Lincoln, Biden unleashed a torrent against the president.

“Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history. He pours fuel on every single racist fire,” he began.

“Started off his campaign coming down the escalator saying he’s going to get rid of those Mexican rapists. He’s banned Muslims because they are Muslims. He’s made everything worse across the board. He says about the Poor Boys, last time we were on stage, ‘stand down and stand ready.’

“Come on. This guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.”


Biden and Trump spar over climate change

Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change when it took office in 2017.

“I will not sacrifice tens of millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of companies because of the Paris accord,” Trump said.

“It was so unfair,” Trump said. China, Russia and India would be allowed to continue polluting while the US would have been required to invest billions in transitioning to renewable energy sources, he said.

Trump speaks during the final presidential debate with Biden at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee [Jim Bourg/Pool/Reuters]
Biden said the US has “to move toward a net zero emissions” by phasing out the fossil fuel economy.

“Climate change, global warming is an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation. We are told by all the leading scientists in the world,” Biden said.

Biden said his plan to shift the US to clean energy is endorsed by environmental groups and labour unions because it would create new jobs.


Moderator job well done: Analysis

Kudos to moderator Kristen Welker of NBC for keeping this final debate of 2020 on track.

Her questions were well-considered, her tone remained neutral and respectful, and she knew when to get out of the candidates’ way.

Moderating a presidential debate has become an increasingly thankless job, but Welker showed it can still be done, says Alan Schroeder, Al Jazeera debate analyst.

Moderator Kristen Welker at the final presidential debate [Jim Watson/AFP]

Microphones and muted tone: Analysis

For all the advance talk about muted microphones, the interruptions in this debate have been minimal, especially compared to the first Trump-Biden encounter.

Muting the mics was probably a good idea, if only as a deterrent to bad behavior.

But the real change here is in Trump’s tone, which is considerably more subdued than the last time, says Alan Schroeder, Al Jazeera debate analyst.


Trump says he is champion of Black community

Moderator Kristen Welker asked both candidates if they understood why Black parents have to have the so-called ‘talk’ with their young people growing up. “Do you understand why these parents fear for their children?” Welker asked.

“The fact of the matter is, there is institutional racism in America. And we have always said – we’ve never lived up to it – we hold these truths to be self-evident, all men and women are created equal. Well guess what we have never ever lived up to that,” Biden said.

Trump participates in the final presidential debate against Biden at Belmont University  [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP]
Trump turned the question into an attack on Biden  for the 1994 Crime Bill that Biden authored which “put 10s of thousands of Black men in jail.”

“Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump,” Trump said, claiming credit for bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation passed by Congress in 2018.

“I had to twist so may arms. It was not a pretty thing,” Trump said.


Biden high point: Analysis

Joe Biden’s righteous indignation over the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border was a stand-out moment in this debate.

Biden seemed to be channeling the revulsion many Americans feel about recent revelations that more than the parents of more than 500 of these kids cannot be tracked.

Biden has an emotional authenticity that serves him well on the debate stage, says Alan Schroeder, Al Jazeera debate analyst.


Trump to Biden: ‘I ran because of you’

A discussion on race devolved into a fight over character.

Trump looked at Biden and said the reason he ran for president in 2016 was because he didn’t think very highly of President Obama and Vice President Biden’s eight years in the White House.

“I ran because of you,” Trump said.

Trump, Biden and moderator, NBC News anchor, Kristen Welker participate in the final presidential debate [ Jim Bourg/Pool/AFP]
Biden responded by saying “You know his character, you know my character. … The character of the country is on the ballot.”

Trump then tried to pivot back to the unfounded allegations about Biden’s family’s business dealings in Ukraine and China.

“If this is true, then he is a corrupt politician. So, don’t give me this that he’s an innocent baby,” Trump said. “He’s a corrupt politician.”


Minimum wage fact check

On the minimum wage, Trump said he would consider raising it, but said he’d like to see a state option because it could increase job losses by squeezing small businesses, says Al Jazeera Managing Business Editor Patricia Sabga

Biden countered that raising the minimum wage would not lead to job losses.

Last year, the Congressional Budget Office projected that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would boost the wages of 17 million workers who would earn less otherwise, and an additional 10 million workers who would earn slightly more than $15 an hour.

But the CBO also said 1.3 million workers would become jobless in that scenario.

Supporters Trump watch the final 2020 presidential debate at a watch party, hosted inside the Republican Party of Eau Claire County office in Altoona, Wisconsin [Bing Guan/Reuters]

Trump, Biden spar over migrant children

Trump was asked about a report that hundreds of missing migrant parents who were separated from their children and he defended his immigration policies.

“The children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people… and they use them to get into our country,” Trump said. He added that migrant children “are so well taken care of” and accused Biden and former President Barack Obama of doing “nothing except build cages”.

Biden argued that the Trump administration is deliberately separating migrant children from their parents “at the border to make it a disincentive.

“They got separated from their parents,” Biden said, adding it “violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”

“Kids were ripped from their arms… and now they can’t find them,” he said. “It’s criminal.”


Trump against $15 minimum wage, Biden in favour

Trump and Biden diverged on the question of a $15 minimum wage. Biden said he supports a federal minimum wage while Trump said the wage should be left up to states.

“I think it should be a state option. Alabama is different from New York. New York is different from Vermont. Every state is different,” Trump said

He claimed many businesses would have to fire employees if the federal government mandated a $15-and-hour minimum wage.

Biden responded that first responders risking their lives and making minimum wage during the pandemic should be paid at least $15 an hour.

“Anything below that puts you below the poverty level and there is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage businesses go out of business,” he said.

 


Biden: ‘No way’ Trump can protect pre-existing conditions

Biden disputed Trump’s claim that he’ll protect pre-existing conditions if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

“There’s no way he can protect pre-existing conditions. He’s been talking about this a long time. He hasn’t come up with a plan,” Biden said before connecting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act to the pandemic.

“He’s already cost the American people with his terrible handling of COVID,” Biden said. “All the people with COVID are going to have pre-existing conditions, what are they going to do?”

Biden answers a question as Trump listens during the second and final presidential debate [Morry Gash/Pool via Reuters]

Trump misfires on scandal allegations: Analysis

“Trump’s attempt to pin a scandal on Joe Biden is badly misfiring,” says Alan Schroeder, Al Jazeera’s debate analyst.

“The problem is that the vast majority of viewers won’t have any idea what Trump is talking about. Trump supporters get it, but those are voters the president already has. Trump’s imperative in this debate is to expand his base – yet he’s preaching to the choir.”


Biden: Trump has ‘legitimised’ North Korea

Moderator Kristen Welker asked Biden and Trump what they would do about North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles.

Biden argued that Trump “legitimized North Korea” through his friendly relationship with Kim Jong Un and compared it to making nice with Hitler before World War II.

“What does he do? He embraces guys like the thugs like North Korea and the Chinese president and Putin and others and pokes his finger that of all our friends, all of our allies,” Biden said.

Biden said he would only meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un if he agreed to denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

Trump responded that Kim ”didn’t like Obama” and suggested that the US was on the road to war before Trump became president. “We’re not in a war, we have a good relationship,” Trump added.

Trump responded that the Obama administration Biden had been part of “left me a mess”.

“There was a very dangerous period the first three months. They left me a mess and Obama would be the first to say it,” Trump said, adding his outreach to Kim averted a potential nuclear war.

 


Biden challenged Trump to release his tax returns

“You have not released a single solitary year of your tax returns. What are you hiding? Why are you unwilling to? Foreign countries are paying you a lot. Russia is paying you a lot. China is paying you a lot. And your hotels and all your business all around the country, all around the world,” Biden said.

Trump responded that he has spoken to his accountants about releasing his tax returns when the audit of them is complete. “I get treated very badly by the IRS, very unfairly. But we had a deal done, as soon as we’re completed with the deal, I want to release it,” Trump said.

Biden mocked Trump’s answer. “He’s been saying this for four years. Show us. Just show us. Stop playing around,” Biden said.


Trump goes there on Biden corruption allegations

Trump has been going after Biden all week about unfounded allegations that Biden had surreptitious dealings in China and Ukraine, so it wasn’t a surprise he brought them up on the debate stage tonight.

“You were vice president when some of this was happening,” Trump alleged. “I think you owe the American people an explanation… you need to clean it up and talk to the American people.”

Trump speaks during the final 2020 US presidential campaign debate in the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
Biden responded saying, “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source in my life,” and then brought up a New York Times report that revealed Trump has an account in a Chinese bank.

Biden then went after Trump on his taxes pointing out, “I have released 22 years of my tax returns. You have not released a single solitary year of your tax returns.”


A civilised beginning: Analysis

The first half-hour of this debate has been remarkably civilised, cites Alan Schroeder, debate analyst.

But the comity seems unlikely to last. Ninety minutes is a long stretch of time on live television, and as the night wears on, the candidates may find it more difficult to remain polite.


Trump says he’s ‘not knocking’ Anthony Fauci

When asked to respond to his comment that Dr. Anthony Fauci and others were “idiots” regarding their advice on coronavirus, Trump launched into a laundry list of Fauci flip-flops.

“He did say don’t wear the masks” before recommending masks, Trump said, before saying that Fauci “is a Democrat” and that he’s “not knocking him … but Anthony said ‘don’t wear the masks.’”


Trump slams Biden on pandemic shutdown

Trump accused Biden of wanting to keep the country shutdown during the pandemic, saying, “All he does is talk about shutdowns.”

“Democratic governors, they’re shut down so tight and they’re dying,” Trump added suggesting that states run by Republican governors are doing better economically.

US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the final presidential debate  [Jim Watson/AFP]
“We have to open our country. It’s a massive country with a massive economy,” Trump said, again accusing Biden of wanting to shutdown “the country” altogether.

“He wants to close the country if one person in our massive bureaucracy wants to shut it down.”


Biden responds to Trump’s coronavirus strategy

“He says we are learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it. You folks at home will have an empty chair at the kitchen table in the morning,” Biden said.

“Learning to live with it? Come on. We’re dying with it, because he’s never said it’s dangerous,” Biden said.

Analysis: Trump reins it in

From Al Jazeera’s debate analyst Alan Schroeder:

Debaters typically receive plenty of coaching before they step on the stage. Although Trump does not engage in traditional debate prep, he does seek out strategic advice from trusted advisers.

The advice he received for this debate was to dial back his aggression–in these early minutes of the debate, Trump seems to be heeding those who told him to rein things in.


Biden says Trump should be held responsible for COVID-19 deaths

“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America,” Biden said.

“The expectation is that we will have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year,” Biden said.

If elected, Biden said he would encourage mask wearing, provide for nationwide rapid testing, set national standards for reopening schools and businesses “and give them the wherewithal to do that”.“I will take care of this. I will end this. I will make sure we have a plan,” Biden said.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during the second 2020 presidential campaign debate with U.S. President Donald Trump at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Debate plexiglass removed

Al Jazeera presidential debate expert Alan Schroeder: “As Trump and Biden discuss the pandemic, a last-minute production change in this debate bears mention: the plexiglass barriers that had been set up onstage as a precaution against coronavirus transmission were removed a few hours before air-time.

“This decision was made after both candidates tested negative, and in consultation with Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. Both campaigns agreed to the change.”


Trump’s coronavirus plan: ‘It will go away’

Donald Trump was asked the first question of the debate: “How would you lead the country” on coronavirus moving forward, and he didn’t offer many specifics other than, “we have a vaccine that’s coming… within weeks” and that the virus “will go away”.

Trump talked about his “personal experience” contracting the virus saying, “I had it and I got better.”

Despite the number of cases rising and the death toll continuing, Trump said, as he has said repeatedly, that “we’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner” on the pandemic.


Final debate is under away

White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Eric Trump’s wife Lara Trump, Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and Tiffany Trump arrive for the second 2020 presidential campaign debate [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Trump arrives for the debate

Trump’s motorcade has reached the Belmont University’s Curb Event Center arena.

Among the guests at the debate are Kid Rock, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

The stage is set

Doors opened at 6:30 pm CST (23:30 GMT).

The event is being held at Belmont University’s Curb Event Center arena, which has 5,500 seats and has been used for a broad array of events, including the 2008 town hall presidential debate and an international tennis competition, according to the university.

The hall is surrounded by an oval-shaped ring of bleachers.

Tonight, there are expected to be about 200 people in the hall, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.


Tonight’s debate topics? Moderator’s choice, by rule

Although the Trump campaign sought to change the theme of tonight’s debate to foreign policy, the agreed-upon rules clearly give the moderator the right to choose her own subject matter, Al Jazeera presidential debate expert Alan Schroeder points out.

“Tonight’s moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News, has announced six discussion topics: coronavirus, race, climate change, national security, American families, and leadership,” Schroeder says.

“Presumably Trump was hoping to avoid having to defend his domestic record, while seeking a platform to critique Joe Biden’s record on international affairs. Whatever the slate of topics, experienced debaters have a way of addressing the things they want to address no matter what the moderator asks – as we saw in the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.”

 

A crew member sanitises the microphone on the podium that Trump will use for his debate with Biden [Mike Segar/Reuters]

US astronaut votes from space station

A US astronaut cast her ballot from the International Space Station, making her voice heard in the presidential election despite being 253 miles (408 kilometers) above the Earth.

“From the International Space Station: I voted today,” crew member Kate Rubins, who began a six-month stint aboard the orbiting station last week, said on US space agency NASA’s Twitter account.

The post featured a photograph of Rubins, her blonde hair floating in the zero-gravity environment, in front of a white enclosure with a paper sign that reads “ISS voting booth.”

Rubins and NASA described the process as a form of absentee voting.


Television ratings for final debate fluctuate

It will be interesting to see how the final Biden-Trump debate fares in the TV ratings, Al Jazeera presidential debate expert Alan Schroeder says.

“Were viewers so turned off by the bombastic first debate that they won’t tune in this time, or will they want to see how Trump handles himself with his back against the wall? History doesn’t provide many clues,” Schroeder says.

“The first debate in 2016 between Trump and Hillary Clinton outdrew the two follow-up encounters, but in other years the final debate of the series has attracted the largest audience.

“Whatever the outcome, the 2020 presidential debates will most certainly rank among the most-watched television programs of the year in the US, exceeded only by the Super Bowl.”

The carpet is vacuumed as final preparations are made ahead of the second and final presidential debate  at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee [Patrick Semansky/AP]

Seattle, Portland, New York sue over Trump’s ‘anarchy’ label

New York, Seattle and Portland – three cities recently labeled “anarchist jurisdictions” by the US Justice Department – filed a lawsuit to invalidate the designation and fight off the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold federal dollars.

“The Trump administration’s political threats against Seattle and other Democratic cities are unlawful and an abuse of federal power,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a news release announcing the federal lawsuit.

Black Lives Matter protesters march through Portland, Oregon after rallying at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in August [File: Noah Berger/AP]
“It’s immoral, unconstitutional, and shameful that we are forced to expend any resources on this political theater.”

Trump issued a memorandum last month that sought to identify localities that permit “anarchy, violence and destruction in American cities” following riots that took place during anti-police and anti-racism protests after George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police.


US says Russian hackers targeting state, local networks

US officials said Russian hackers have targeted the networks of dozens of state and local governments in the United States in recent days, stealing data from at least two servers.

The advisory from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency described an onslaught of recent activity from Russian state-sponsored hacking groups in against state and local networks, some of which were successfully compromised.


US sanctions Iranian organisations for alleged election disinformation

The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on three new Iranian organisations in connection with an alleged disinformation campaign targeting the 2020 election.

The Treasury said in a statement the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute was being sanctioned for being “complicit in foreign interference in the 2020 US presidential election.”

The Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and the International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) were sanctioned because they are allegedly controlled by the already-sanctioned Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.


With early voting, tonight’s debate is very late

Al Jazeera’s presidential debate analyst Alan Schroeder points out, “With so many Americans voting early this year – largely in response to the coronavirus pandemic – the final presidential debate comes especially late in the cycle.

“When Trump and Biden step onstage in Nashville tonight, more than 47 million ballots will already have been cast across the United States. Early voting has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more states now conducting their elections almost entirely by mail.

“If presidential debates are to retain their relevance, future rounds will need to become more responsive to this revised calendar.”


Twitter and White House deny Trump’s account hacked

A Dutch security researcher said he successfully gained access to Donald Trump’s Twitter account, but both the White House and Twitter deny the claim.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told The Verge “This is absolutely not true … but we don’t comment on security procedures around the President’s social media accounts.”

A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge, “We’ve seen no evidence to corroborate this claim, including from the article published in the Netherlands today.

“We proactively implemented account security measures for a designated group of high-profile, election-related Twitter accounts in the United States, including federal branches of government.”


Trump tests negative for COVID-19

The White House chief of staff says Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus ahead of Thursday night’s second and final presidential debate.

Mark Meadows says Trump was tested onboard Air Force One while en route to Nashville, Tennessee, and tested negative.

Biden’s campaign said Thursday that he, too, was tested Thursday and tested negative.

The test comes after Trump’s bout with the virus, which put him in the hospital for three nights.

Both campaigns had been required to certify that their candidates and VIP guests have tested negative ahead of the debates. But Trump and the White House have repeatedly refused to say whether Trump actually was tested before participating in the first debate.

Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus two days later.


Biden: ‘Hopefully he’ll play by the rules’

Biden, wearing a face mask and aviators, spoke briefly about debate later tonight.

His wife Jill Biden was with him.

“Hopefully he’ll play by the rules,” Biden said, alluding to the last election debate, when Trump repeatedly disrupted him.

Biden also said that he hopes everyone attending has tested negative for COVID-19. Trump announced that he had contracted the virus shortly after the last debate.

Earlier on Thursday, Biden said that he had tested negative for the virus.

“We’re looking forward to this,” he said.

Spokesman says Trump plans to vote early on Saturday in Florida

Trump plans to cast an early vote in the election while visiting Florida this weekend, White House spokesman Judd Deere said, adding that the president would vote in West Palm Beach, Florida, where his Mar-a-Lago estate is located, on Saturday.

US President Donald Trump walking from Marine One with first lady Melania Trump to board Air Force One as they depart Washington, DC on campaign travel to Nashville, Tennessee to attend his second and final debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, the US [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

Poll roundup: Voters sour on incumbents

A majority of US voters say Trump does not deserve re-election, according to a new Gallup poll.

But he fares better than Congress, as significantly more voters say “most members of Congress” deserve to be ousted on Election Day.

Fifty-six percent of registered voters say Trump doesn’t deserve re-election on Election Day. In January, prior to the pandemic, only 50 percent said that about Trump. As for Congress, only 29 percent say “most members” deserve to be re-elected, as Americans’ view of Congress in general continues to sink.

In typical fashion, however, when asked about their specific member of the House of Representatives, voters’ views are flipped: 60 percent said their representative deserves to be sent back to Washington.

A slew of state-level presidential polls reveal what the key battlegrounds are in the final 12 days of the campaign. Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas are statistical ties between Trump and Biden, according to Morning Consult polls of likely voters. Biden leads in Florida (+7), Michigan (+8), Minnesota (+9), Pennsylvania (+9) and Wisconsin (+12).

Biden’s leads in Morning Consult’s polls of Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are larger than the average of polls in those states. They could be outliers or they could be signalling more voter movement toward Biden. Polling in the coming days will shed more light on which of those scenarios is most accurate.

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One as they depart Washington on campaign travel to Nashville, Tennessee to attend his second and final debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, the US [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

Trump posts full 60 Minutes interview

Trump posted his full interview with the television programme 60 Minutes ahead of its scheduled airtime, in what seemed to be a move to undercut the CBS news show after an interview during which he walked out.

The president posted the nearly 40-minute discussion with CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl to his Facebook page with the caption: “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS.”

In the wide-encompassing interview, Trump railed against the media. “You have discredited yourself,” he said, accusing Stahl of not covering Biden and his son’s alleged links with Ukraine.

“I think it’s one of the biggest scandals I’ve ever seen,” Trump said.

“If I didn’t have social media I’d have no way of getting out my voice.”

Read more here.


Biden says COVID-19 test negative before debate

Biden said he has tested negative for COVID-19 ahead of his debate with Trump on Thursday night.

Biden made the comments to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware before flying to Nashville, Tennessee, where he is scheduled to participate in the second debate with Trump, the final scheduled meeting of the two candidates before the election.

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks at a voter mobilisation event at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina, the US [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

Dutch security researcher says he hacked Trump’s Twitter

Victor Gevers, a security expert, said he gained access to Trump’s direct messages, could post tweets in his name and change his profile, according to Dutch publication de Volkskrant.

Gevers says he guessed Trump’s password: maga2020!, a popular slogan for Trump’s re-election campaign, on his fifth attempt to hack the president’s Twitter account.

“I expected to be blocked after four failed attempts. Or at least would be asked to provide additional information,” Gevers told de Volkskrant.

Gevers, who previously managed to log into Trump’s account in 2016, said Trump’s account lacked basic security measures like two-step verification.


US President Donald Trump speaking during a campaign rally in Gastonia, North Carolina, the US [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

‘A kinder, gentler President Trump’? He says he hopes so

Trump was asked by Jason Whitlock of the conservative sports website Outkick if we’ll see “a kinder, gentler President Trump” if he wins re-election.

“I think the answer is yes, I want the answer to be yes,” Trump said during the interview Wednesday at the White House.

“But when I first came here, there was so much to do. I didn’t have time to be totally politically correct,” Trump continued.

“I hope the answer is yes, but a lot of it is time. You gotta get going, you don’t have much time. Being politically correct takes time, you understand. And sometimes we don’t have time,” Trump said.

“The answer is yes, and I’d certainly like to.”


US Senate committee approves sending subpoenas to Facebook and Twitter CEOs

The US Senate Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena the chief executives of Twitter and Facebook after the social media platforms decided to block stories from the New York Post that made claims about Biden’s son.

The vote passed along party lines, with 12 Republicans approving the motion. The 10 Democrats on the committee were not present for the session.

The CEOs of Facebook and Twitter will testify on allegations of anti-conservative bias at a yet-to-be-determined date. The companies have come under heavy criticism from conservatives over their decision to flag the two New York Post stories as spreading disinformation and their attempts to clamp down on the distribution of the stories.

US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden attend an NCAA basketball game between Georgetown University and Duke University in Washington, DC, the US [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Gallup: Trump and Biden favourabilty ratings up, but still low

Biden leads Trump 54 to 47 percent in Gallup’s historical “scalometer” measure of candidate favourability.

Trump’s 2020 rating on the zero to 10 scale is better than the all-time low 36 percent he received in 2016, and Biden’s rating exceeds Hillary Clinton’s 47 percent that year.

But the 2020 ratings are among the lowest in Gallup’s trends since 1956. Most presidential candidates from the 1950s to the 1970s, according to Gallup, enjoyed favourable ratings on this measure of 70 percent or more, with several at 80 percent or higher.

Trump national security adviser says president will respect election results

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, said Trump would accept the results of the election if he loses.

“If he loses the election, I’m certain the president will transfer power over, but we’ve got to make sure there’s no fraud in the election and we need to make sure it’s a free and fair election,” he said in an interview with Politico.

“Just like we demand of other countries overseas, we need to make the demand of ourselves,” O’Brien added.


Joe Biden says he will study issue regarding adding members to Supreme Court

In an interview to be broadcast on Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says he will rely on the advice of scholars before making a decision about how to approach adding members to the Supreme Court.

“If elected, what I will do is I’ll put together a national commission of – bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative. And I will ask them to over 180 days come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack,” Biden told CBS News in an interview to air on the 60 Minutes programme.

On the court system, Biden says: “The way in which it’s being handled and it’s not about court-packing. There’s a number of other things that our constitutional scholars have debated and I’ve looked to see what recommendations that commission might make.”


Judge Amy Coney Barrett, US President Donald Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the US [Anna Moneymaker/Pool via Reuters]

Committee votes to send Barrett’s nomination to full Senate; Democrats boycott

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to send Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court to the Senate floor.

It was unanimous since no Democrats actually showed up for the vote, boycotting it in opposition. Despite the Democrats’ absence, committee chairman Lindsey Graham pressed forward with the vote and praised Barrett as “incredibly qualified”.

Following the vote, which saw all 12 Republicans on the committee vote for Barrett, Republican Senator John Cornyn called the Democrats’ boycott “theatre”.

Democratic leader Chuck Schumer slammed Trump and Republicans, complaining they were rushing Barrett’s nomination through and saying it “has been a sham process from the beginning”.

The full Senate is scheduled to vote on Barrett’s nomination on Monday, when she is expected to have enough votes for confirmation.


There will be Plexiglass shields to separate the 2020 US presidential candidates – President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden – at the final debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, the US [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Final debate

US President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden are set to square off in their final debate.

It is one of the last high-profile opportunities for the candidates to showcase their policies.

In an effort to curtail interruptions, Trump and Biden will each have his microphone cut off while his rival delivers an opening two-minute answer to each of the six debate topics.

All eyes will be on Donald Trump’s behaviour, debate analyst Alan Schroeder writes.

Read yesterday’s (October 21) updates here.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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