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Presidential debate derails as Trump hammers Biden about his son

Brittany Shepherd
·National Politics Reporter
·3-min read

Tuesday night’s chaotic presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden spun out of control, as the pair engaged in a shouting match that often rendered their answers inaudible and sidelined any attempts to address the moderator’s questions.

The debate, a scaled-back, socially distant in-person event at Ohio’s Case Western University, marked the first time the pair had traded insults and compared records in person.

Trump had begun to interrupt Biden early in the debate, but the two candidates came to loggerheads when the president brought up the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden.

“What did he [Hunter] do with Burisma?” Trump said, referring to the Ukrainian gas company for which Hunter Biden worked as a consultant. He also asserted an unsubstantiated claim that Biden’s son had received $3.5 million from a Russian businesswoman.

As Biden began to refute the claim, Trump continued to hammer his rival, and the pair began to speak over one another.

President Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (Julio Cortez/AP)
President Trump at the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The Fox News anchor and debate moderator Chris Wallace issued Trump a warning: “No, Mr. President, please. You’ve asked a question.”

Before Biden was able to restart his answer, Trump continued, and again, Wallace intervened. “Mr. President, it’s an open discussion… You have raised an issue, let the vice president answer,” he said.

Biden, once more, tried to respond, and, again, Trump interrupted, with more assertions about Hunter Biden and his dealings with Burisma.

Eventually, Biden was able to say: “My son did nothing wrong at Burisma.” But it was too late. Even Wallace’s “Mr. President, let him answer” couldn’t dissuade the president.

“He doesn’t want to let me answer, because he knows I have the truth,” retorted Biden. “His position has been totally, thoroughly discredited.”

The next half minute followed a similar pattern, with Biden attempting to counter Trump’s accusations and Trump preventing him from doing so by talking over him. Wallace, to no avail, repeatedly urged Trump to “Please stop.”

“It’s hard to get any word in with this clown — excuse me, this person,” said an exasperated Biden.

Eventually, Wallace had had enough and began dressing down the candidates, aiming his message primarily at Trump.

Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News speaks during the first presidential debate with President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (Olivier Douliery/Pool vi AP)
Chris Wallace of Fox News moderates the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. (Olivier Douliery/Pool vi AP)

“Sir, sir, you know what? Stop,” Wallace said, over loud crosstalk from both candidates. “Gentlemen, I hate to raise my voice, but why shouldn’t I be different than the two of you?”

Wallace then attempted to get the debate back on track, noting that both candidates were supposed to have two minutes to speak. “In those two uninterrupted minutes, Mister President, you can say anything you want,” he said.

Wallace continued: “I think 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.”

“And him too?” Trump asked, gesturing to Biden, to which Wallace responded, “Frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting than he has.”

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