President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden met in the first of three scheduled debates, this one at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News. The topics addressed were the Supreme Court, as Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett meets with Republican senators, the covid-19 outbreak; the economy; race; the candidates’ records; the climate; and the integrity of the election.

Trump frequently interrupted both Biden and Wallace, taking swipes at Biden’s son, going over his allotted time and ignoring other rules. Trump, when asked about whether he would condemn white supremacists, failed to fully do so, telling the Proud Boys group, “Stand back and standby.” He also continued to cast unwarranted doubt on mail ballots.

Here’s what to know about the race
September 30, 2020 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Biden campaign says he plans to show up for future debates with Trump

By Matt Viser

Top advisers to Biden, in the aftermath of a messy and hostile debate that some have already claimed was the worst in American history, say he will participate in the remaining debates with Trump.

“Yes, Joe Biden’s going to show up,” Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager, said on a call with reporters after the debate. “He’s going to continue speaking directly to the American people.”

She noted that the next debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, is being conducted in a town hall format in which questions will come from undecided voters, which they view as a Biden strength.

“There is an open question here based on what we saw from Donald Trump tonight. Is he going to try to bully actual voters? Is he going to insult his way through the next debate?” Bedingfield added. “Joe Biden’s going to show up. … We’ll see if [Trump] decides to show up in Miami next month.”

She also added that Biden would participate in the third debate, planned for Oct. 22 in Nashville.

“We are going to the debates, guys,” she said. “We don’t know how many different ways we can say it. Yes, we are going to the debates.”

She said there would be ongoing conversations with the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates over the debate rules and format.

Biden’s campaign also announced that it raised $3.8 million between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Tuesday, breaking its single-hour fundraising record.

September 29, 2020 at 11:01 PM EDT
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Trump continues his misleading attacks on mail-in voting

By Amy Gardner

In the final moments of Tuesday’s debate, President Trump repeated his baseless claim that mail balloting will invite widespread fraud and declined to commit to accepting the results of the election.

Trump said he “can’t go along” with an election result based on millions of mailed ballots, particularly if many of those ballots are received and counted after Election Day.

“This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen,” he said.

Trump claimed that ballots with his name on them have been found in a creek and in a wastebasket. It’s unclear what the creek reference alluded to, but his mention of the wastebasket referred to nine ballots that an election official in Luzerne County, Pa., found discarded earlier this month.

The matter remains under investigation, and the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has announced that seven of the nine ballots had been cast for Trump. A contract worker in the elections office who discarded the ballots has been fired. It is unknown why the worker discarded the ballots.

Biden said Trump’s claims are “all about trying to dissuade people from voting, because he’s trying to scare people into thinking it’s not going to be legitimate.”

September 29, 2020 at 10:48 PM EDT
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Trump refuses to promise not to declare preemptive victory, while Biden urges calm

By Isaac Stanley-Becker

Wallace ended Tuesday’s debate by asking each candidate whether he would pledge to urge calm among his supporters and promise not to make a preemptive claim of victory while votes were still being counted.

Biden said yes, while Trump pointedly refused.

“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” the president said, repeating misleading claims about mail voting — a process of which he has availed himself and which more Americans are using this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump warned ominously, and without evidence, of “bad things” in Philadelphia. “If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that,” he added.

It marked the latest instance in which the Republican incumbent has refused to commit to accepting the results of the election.

September 29, 2020 at 10:47 PM EDT
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Trump says he is counting on the Supreme Court to settle disputes over mail-in ballots

By Michelle Lee

Trump said he expects the Supreme Court, including his not-yet-confirmed nominee Amy Coney Barrett, to settle any disputes that arise over mail-in ballots in the November election.

Noting that early voting has begun in many states, Wallace asked Trump: “Now that millions of mail-in ballots have gone out, what are you going to do about it? And are you counting on the Supreme Court, including a Justice Barrett, to settle in any dispute?”

Trump answered: “I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely. I don’t think we’ll — I hope we don’t need them in terms of the election itself. But for the ballots, I think so.”

September 29, 2020 at 10:46 PM EDT
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Trump doesn’t condemn white supremacists when asked to

By Colby Itkowitz

In a segment about race, Trump was asked by Wallace if he would condemn white supremacists. The president said he would do so but then didn’t.

I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right, but what are you saying? I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said.

“Then do it, sir,” Wallace said.

What do you want to call them? Give me a name,” Trump asked. Wallace offered white supremacists, Proud Boys, right-wing militias.

“Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by,” Trump said before going into an extended attack on antifa.

An online platform for the Proud Boys cheered the president’s answer, a Washington Post reporter tweeted, as other white supremacy groups have in past instances when Trump hasn’t fully condemned them.

September 29, 2020 at 10:40 PM EDT
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Trump: ‘We might not know for months’ who won election

By Sean Sullivan

Trump continued to make unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and issues with mailed-in ballots, saying, “We might not know for months” what the outcome of the election is and who wins.

While Trump has left open the question of whether he would accept the results of the election if he loses, Biden sough to stake out a different position.

“If I win, that will be accepted, if I lose that will be accepted,” said Biden. He encouraged voters to cast ballots by mail or in person. “Vote whatever way is best for you,” he said.

Responding to Trump raising doubts about the vote, Biden said: “He’s just afraid of counting the votes."

Trump pointedly declined to pledge to plead with his supporters to stay calm during an extended vote count. Biden said he would urge calm and refrain from declaring a premature victory.

September 29, 2020 at 10:30 PM EDT
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Trump says he believes climate evidence ‘to an extent’

By Isaac Stanley-Becker

Trump strained to respond to a question about climate change, saying he believed “to an extent” that human pollution and greenhouse gas emissions contribute to the warming of the planet.

“I think a lot of things do, but I think, to an extent, yes,” the president said, maintaining that his aim was to have “crystal-clean water and air. I want beautiful, clean air.” He did not offer a plan to achieve that environmental ideal — or to respond to raging forest fires in the American West.

On his move to roll back fuel-efficiency standards, the president said the difference was “tiny,” while “the car is much less expensive, and it’s a much safer car.”

Biden said he would rejoin the Paris climate accords and rally other nations around environmental standards. He also said it was possible to create jobs and save money while converting to clean energy.

“We spend billions of dollars now on floods, hurricanes, rising seas,” Biden said. “We’re in real trouble.”

September 29, 2020 at 10:30 PM EDT
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Trump uses Biden’s comments on his son Beau to attack Hunter

By Colby Itkowitz

In an emotional moment, Biden brought up the allegation that Trump called soldiers “losers,” which the president has denied.

Biden referenced his late son, Beau, who served in Iraq. “My son was in Iraq. He spent a year there,” Biden said. “He got the Bronze Star. … He was not a loser, he was a patriot.”

Hearing “son,” Trump chimed in: “Are you talking about Hunter?”

“No, I’m talking about my son, Beau Biden,” Biden said.

Trump still took it as another opening to attack Hunter and his struggles.

“My son, my son, my son,” Biden said, “like a lot of people we know at home, had a drug problem. He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him.”

September 29, 2020 at 10:27 PM EDT
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Fact Checker: Trump didn’t save Big Ten football

By Salvador Rizzo

“I’m the one that brought back football, by the way. I brought back Big Ten football. It was me and I’m very happy to do it.”

— Trump

Trump opposed the game suspensions, but that’s about it. He and other White House officials indicated federal resources were made available to the Big Ten, but one person familiar with the process told The Washington Post that the conference hasn’t been given, nor has it requested, federal assistance.

“President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations,” an unidentified Big Ten university president told NBC. “In fact, when his name came up it was a negative because no one wanted this to be political.”

September 29, 2020 at 10:27 PM EDT
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Biden: Country ‘weaker, sicker’ under Trump

By Sean Sullivan

A broad question from Wallace about why voters should pick each of the candidates quickly escalated into intense sparring.

Trump defended his record on the military and touted his aggressive efforts to install conservative judges on federal courts. Biden argued that under Trump, the country had becomeweaker, sicker, poorer, more divided and more violent.”

Wallace once again interjected to implore Trump not to interrupt and honor the format his campaign agreed to in advance.

“He never keeps his word,” Biden interjected.

September 29, 2020 at 10:25 PM EDT
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Fact Checker: Biden misfires on violent-crime statistic

By Glenn Kessler

“The fact of the matter is violent crime went down 17 percent, 15 percent in our administration. It’s gone up on his watch.”

— Biden

Biden did not nail his usual talking point, so this turns out to be false. In discussing his record, he often mentions violent crime. But when he discusses Trump, he talks about murders. This selective presentation puts Biden in the best possible light and Trump in the worst.

As its source for the violent-crime data, the Biden campaign pointed to a 2017 report by our colleagues at FactCheck.org on statistics about the Obama administration. Citing the FBI, FactCheck.org said: “The number of violent crimes per 100,000 population was nearly 16 percent lower in 2016 than in 2008, and the property crime rate dropped nearly 24 percent. But the murder rate didn’t drop at all — it was 5.4 per 100,000 both in 2008 and in 2016.”

So if Biden compared his record on murders, he wouldn’t have much to brag about. There was no improvement under President Barack Obama.

As for the stats so far in 2020, the campaign cited calculations by crime analyst Jeff Asher, who compared the non-population-adjusted data for the 25 biggest cities for the first seven months of the year with the first seven months of 2019. The number of murders went up 26 percent, but the number of violent crimes is essentially flat.

In other words, Biden’s jab at Trump is wrong. There has been little change in violent crime under Trump.

September 29, 2020 at 10:24 PM EDT
Jose Del Real: Trump’s accusation that Biden is beholden to Black Lives Matter protesters who want to “abolish the police” combined several misleading claims. Not only has Biden rejected calls to defund police departments — to the frustration of activists on the left — but polling shows the majority of Black Americans do not want decreased police presence in their communities. Sixty-one percent of Black adults in the United States said they would like police presence to stay the same, according to a Gallup poll released in August, while 20 percent said they would actually like to see police spend more time in their communities. Just 19 percent said they would like to see police spend less time in their neighborhoods.
Jose Del Real, Reporter, National Political Enterprise
September 29, 2020 at 10:21 PM EDT
Matt Viser: At a time when Republicans have suggested that Democrats criticizing Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett are doing so because of her Catholic faith, religion came up only once during the first 70 minutes of the debate. It was Biden who raised it, looking toward Trump and saying, “This guy and his friends look down their nose at Irish Catholics like me who grew up in Scranton."
Matt Viser, National political reporter
September 29, 2020 at 10:20 PM EDT
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Wallace urges Trump not to interrupt so much, saying ‘I’m appealing to you, sir’

By Sean Sullivan

In an extraordinary moment, moderator Chris Wallace pleaded with Trump not to interrupt so much. The debate has been chaotic, and often filled with interjections digressions and attacks — mostly from the incumbent.

“I that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I’m appealing to you, sir, to do that,” Wallace told Trump.

“Well, and him too,” Trump shot back.

“Well, frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting,” Wallace replied.

“But he does plenty,” Trump said.

“No, less than you have,” Wallace concluded before moving on to the next line of questioning.

September 29, 2020 at 10:16 PM EDT
Ashley Parker: Trump has repeatedly proved that he cannot bring himself to fully condemn white supremacists. Most memorably, this is what got him in trouble after Charlottesville. And tonight, asked to condemn the Proud Boys — a far-right neo-fascist group — Trump only said, “Stand back and stand by.” Stand by sounds more like a call to action than a condemnation.
Ashley Parker, White House reporter
September 29, 2020 at 10:15 PM EDT
Paul Sonne: Trump’s allegation that Hunter Biden received $3.5 million from the Russian tycoon Yelena Baturina, who was married to the late Moscow mayor, comes from a report that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) released earlier this month. The report alleged that in 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million to the Delaware-registered firm Rosemont Seneca Thornton and claimed the firm was co-founded by Hunter Biden. In a statement, George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, called the allegation false. Mesires said Hunter Biden neither co-founded nor had any interest in the firm. The implication was that the transaction was a deal done by Hunter Biden’s onetime business partner, Devon Archer, who is listed as the manager who founded the firm on corporate filings.
Paul Sonne, National security reporter focusing on the U.S. military
September 29, 2020 at 10:13 PM EDT
Eugene Scott: Trump said there was widespread division during the Obama administration. But most Americans say that Trump is a divisive figure because of his rhetoric and how he portrays those outside of his base. More than half of those surveyed by Yahoo News/YouGov in June said the president is divisive because he believes it will cause him to win the election.
Eugene Scott, Reporter covering identity politics for The Fix
September 29, 2020 at 9:59 PM EDT
Matt Viser: The split screen of the two candidates showcases the vast difference between Trump’s and Biden’s public personas. Trump is often scowling, his lips pursed as he glances with a side-eye toward Biden. The former vice president is frequently smiling and laughing, even when Trump is insulting his crowd sizes or his intelligence, and at times has a baffled and befuddled look on his face. While Trump is often looking directly at Biden, several times Biden has looked directly at the camera to address viewers rather than Trump.
Matt Viser, National political reporter
September 29, 2020 at 9:47 PM EDT
Eugene Scott: Early in the debate, Trump attacked Biden’s intelligence, criticizing him for his poor performance in college. But according to his niece, Trump was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania after paying someone to take the SAT for him. The Post previously reported that Trump was admitted to the Wharton School of Business after connecting with a longtime friend of Trump’s older brother who was an admissions officer at the school at the time.
Eugene Scott, Reporter covering identity politics for The Fix
September 29, 2020 at 9:47 PM EDT
Amy Goldstein: Two key members of Trump’s administration have said that much of the public may not have access to a coronavirus vaccine until next summer. When asked if he agreed, Trump clung to his insistence that they are wrong. He said he has spoken directly with pharmaceutical executives, and he characterized as political the forecasts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the head of Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s program to deliver an effective vaccine to curb the pandemic.
Amy Goldstein, Reporter covering health-care policy and other social policy issues
September 29, 2020 at 9:47 PM EDT
Robert Barnes: We didn’t learn very much about either candidate’s plan for the Supreme Court. But Biden again refused to be drawn into debate about increasing the size of the court, something liberals will push hard if Barrett is confirmed and Biden is elected.
Robert Barnes, Reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court
September 29, 2020 at 9:33 PM EDT
Matt Viser: Biden has served with more U.S. senators than almost anyone in history, engaging in Senate floor debates, two vice-presidential debates and a scrum of Democratic presidential debates over three presidential primaries. But Biden has never faced anyone like Trump, who is interrupting again and again, putting Biden at the point of exasperation.
Matt Viser, National political reporter
September 29, 2020 at 9:25 PM EDT
Amy Goldstein: Asked why he hasn’t produced a full-fledged plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump sidestepped the question, referring to recent executive orders he has signed on drug prices — one pegging the price of drugs for people on Medicare to that in certain other countries. These are more intentions than policies that have gone into effect.
Amy Goldstein, Reporter covering health-care policy and other social policy issues
September 29, 2020 at 9:20 PM EDT
Robert Barnes: Trump is reluctant to say that Judge Amy Coney Barrett would overturn Roe v. Wade, arguing that no one knows how she would vote. But offering nominees who would overturn Roe is the pledge he made regarding Supreme Court nominations in 2016.
Robert Barnes, Reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court