Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Donald Trump's campaign demands debate commission tear up list of topics for Thursday's head-to-head and focus on 'foreign policy' accusing it of 'pro-Biden antics' - after saying they want to ask about Hunter

 President Donald Trump's campaign accused the Commission on Presidential Debates of being 'swamp monsters' who were helping Joe Biden avoid having to answer questions about his son Hunter's emails with a Ukrainian official during the final matchup before Election Day.

And they formally requested it tear up the list of debate topics to focus on 'foreign policy' in an attempt to shift the subject to the Democratic nominee's son.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien sent a formal letter to the commission asking for them to dismiss the topics chosen by the moderator, NBC's Kristen Welker.

'For the good of campaign integrity, and for the benefit of the American people, we urge you to rethink and reissue a set of topics for the October 22 debate with an emphasis on foreign policy,' Stepien said. 

He argued the topics Welker picked - Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership - were covered in the first presidential debate.

He accused the commission - which is made up of both Republicans and Democrats - of being pro-Biden.

'The Commission’s pro-Biden antics have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco and it is little wonder why the public has lost faith in its objectivity,' he wrote.

Additionally, Jason Miller, a senior adviser on the Trump campaign, complained that the debate was supposed to be foreign policy focused but charged the commissioners, who he described as 'swamp dinosaurs,' changed it to a multi-topic format at the request of the Biden campaign.

'This is supposed to be the foreign policy debate. The final debate is always the foreign policy debate. It was like in 2016. It's been like for election cycle after election cycle. The debate commission is now trying to change the rules and make this about a whole host of different issues. And we believe this is the request of the Biden campaign,' he said on a press call with reporters on Monday.

The Trump campaign, including the president himself, have pushed hard on the Hunter Biden story, saying it showed Joe Biden was a 'criminal.'

The president blew up at a reporter Monday who asked him about that strategy.

'He is a criminal. He got caught, and you know who is a criminal here? You're criminal for not reporting it,' Trump said after arriving in Arizona for a campaign rally. 

And Miller's criticism comes after President Trump held an expletive-filled phone call with campaign staff Monday where were he claimed he was on a path to victory, railed against a New York Times article that said his re-election bid was in trouble, and called Dr. Anthony Fauci an 'idiot.'

Biden is leading the president in most major polls - both nationally and in the critical battleground states needed to win on November 3. 

Trump attacks Biden and slams media for not covering Hunter's scandal
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President Donald Trump and his campaign have pushed the story about Hunter Biden's emails hard with Trump telling the media on Monday they were criminal in not reporting it

President Donald Trump and his campaign have pushed the story about Hunter Biden's emails hard with Trump telling the media on Monday they were criminal in not reporting it

The Trump campaign sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates requesting the final debate be focused on foreign policy

The Trump campaign sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates requesting the final debate be focused on foreign policy

As for Miller's argument, there was no indication the final debate was supposed to be foreign-policy focused and the final debate of the 2016 contest was not that way.

When the commission announced the details of this year's debates in September, it said the first and third debates would have the same format: 'six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.'

The final presidential debate of 2016, which took place between Trump and Hillary Clinton on October 19, was the same format of six segments. One of those segments was foreign hot spots but the other five were domestic issues, including debt and entitlements, immigration, economy, Supreme Court, and fitness to be president. 

Miller, however, said the Biden campaign didn't want to talk about foreign policy even though Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and spent eight years as vice president, which included a lot of foreign travel.

The top Trump campaign aide specifically cited the Hunter Biden emails and the former vice president's son relationship with China as something Biden wanted to avoid.

'It's clear the Biden campaign doesn't want to talk foreign policy. It's clear the debate commission is bending over backwards to try and help out the Biden campaign. These were conversations we had with the debate commission going back to the beginning. It was always clear this was going to be the foreign policy debate. Now they are trying to move the goal posts just like those always do,' Miller complained. 

The Biden campaign did not respond to DailyMail.com's request for comment.  

The allegations from the Trump campaign come as questions are being raised about the authenticity of the emails found on a  laptop that allegedly belonged to Hunter Biden.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he obtained the mysterious laptop from a computer repair shop owner in Wilmington. 

Its contents, which Giuliani provided to the New York Post, include emails from Hunter Biden who appears to be seeking to cash in with officials from the Ukraine and China based on his father's position. 

Te Trump campaign claimed the debate commission was helping Democratic nominee Joe Biden not to have answer questions about Hunter

Te Trump campaign claimed the debate commission was helping Democratic nominee Joe Biden not to have answer questions about Hunter

A mysterious laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden had emails and personal photos of the former vice president's son

A mysterious laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden had emails and personal photos of the former vice president's son

The revelation of the emails shook up the presidential election race. 

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the information actually came from Russia.

But Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, a close Trump ally, said Monday that the laptop 'is not part of some Russia disinformation campaign.'

Asked if the laptop was part of Russian disinformation, Ratcliffe told Fox Business: 'Let me be clear: the intelligence community doesn't believe that, because there is no intelligence that supports that. And we have shared no intelligence with Chairman Schiff, or any member of Congress that Hunter Biden's laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign. It's simply not true.' 

However he also said that the FBI, which is part of the intelligence community, was in possession of the laptop.

'The FBI has had possession of this,' Ratcliffe said. 'Without commenting on any investigation that they may or may not have, their investigation is not centered around Russian disinformation and the intelligence community is not playing any role with respect to that.' 

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign blasted a CNN report that the debate commissioners were meeting Monday to consider rule changes for Thursday's event in Nashville. 

Trump senior campaign adviser Jason Miller charged the debate commission with helping Joe Biden

Trump senior campaign adviser Jason Miller charged the debate commission with helping Joe Biden

'We are going to consider what changes we are going to make with regards to the debate on Thursday night,' one commission member told the network.

It's unclear what changes could be made but, in the first debate, Trump was criticized for his constant interruptions and talking over Biden - in violation of debate rules. 

Miller claimed the commission wants the ability to silence the president.

He said he's hearing the debate commission may allow producers to 'turn off the president's microphone whenever they want to, which again would be a gross violation of what we agreed to initially.' 

That change was reportedly being considered for the second presidential debate, which was ultimately cancelled. 

Meanwhile, Biden was hunkered down in Wilmington in debate prep on Monday while President Trump had back-to-back campaign rallies in Arizona with more on tap ahead of Thursday's final presidential debate.


Their approaches to the upcoming event mirror what they did for their first debate, with Biden at the books and Trump drawing energy from his supporters.

Biden did tape an interview on Monday for CBS' '60 Minutes.' The news program will air interviews with Trump and Biden this Sunday. 

Thursday marks the final head-to-head for Trump and Biden before November 3. 

It comes after the second presidential debate was canceled when Trump refused to participate in it after organizers made it virtual. The two candidates held dueling town hall meetings on different networks instead.

Ahead of their last meeting, Trump is not likely to hold formal debate preparation sessions. One of the main reasons is that Trump himself and more than half the people in them - including adviser Hope Hicks, campaign manager Bill Stepien and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie - contracted the coronavirus, The New York Times reported. 

But the president's advisers are urging him to take a different approach to Thursday's event in Nashville, compared to the first debate, when Trump was criticized for repeatedly interrupting and talking over his Democratic rival.

The format for the third debate is the same but advisers are telling him to be more likable, Axios reported, including trying to tell jokes and use a softer tone. 

But one area where Trump is expected to hit hard is on Hunter Biden, the former vice president's son. 

The president and his campaign have repeatedly hammered the Bidens on email messages reported to be from Hunter and Ukrainian officials. The laptop was from a repair shop in Wilmington whose owner could not remember who brought in and existence was revealed by Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer. It's authenticity is under question.

The third debate comes as Trump campaign aides are quietly conceding how uphill the odds are for the president to get a second term with the blame-game beginning.

Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, is bearing the blunt of it, The Times reported, with critics drawing attention to the way he handled the president's hospitalization with COVID. Questions were also being raised about why Meadows sat in Judge Amy Comey Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearings this past week instead of being at work at the White House. 

Meanwhile, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn became the latest Republican to distance himself from the president.

Cornyn, running for a fourth term, told the the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of his relationship with Trump, that 'maybe like a lot of women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse, and that doesn't usually work out very well.'

'I think what we found is that we're not going to change President Trump. He is who he is. You either love him or hate him, and there's not much in between,' he said. 

'What I tried to do is not get into public confrontations and fights with him because, as I've observed, those usually don't end too well.'   

President Donald Trump is not expected to participate in any formal debate prep sessions ahead of Thursday night's final head-to-head

President Donald Trump is not expected to participate in any formal debate prep sessions ahead of Thursday night's final head-to-head

Joe Biden is spending Monday hunkered down in Wilmington in debate preparation

Joe Biden is spending Monday hunkered down in Wilmington in debate preparation

President Trump's advisers are telling him to take a different approach from the first debate (above) when he repeatedly interrupted Joe Biden; they are advising him to be more likable

President Trump's advisers are telling him to take a different approach from the first debate (above) when he repeatedly interrupted Joe Biden; they are advising him to be more likable


Cornyn's words came after Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was at pains to stress he had not been to the White House since August; Arizona Senator Martha McSally repeatedly refused to answer if she was proud of her support for the president; and Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse told a private phone call he expected Trump to lose. 

Biden is leading in the polls with 15 days until the election. Almost 29 million people have already cast their ballots.

While Trump rides a political wave of rallies in Arizona on Monday, Pennsylvania on Tuesday and North Carolina on Wednesday, Biden is expected to remain behind closed doors in debate prep with surrogates out campaigning for him. 

Kamala Harris will be campaigning in Florida, where early voting begins on Monday, and Jill Biden is in Pennsylvania. 

Jill Biden heads to Michigan on Tuesday.

And the Biden campaign is pulling out its biggest draw on Wednesday when former President Barack Obama campaigns for Biden in Philadelphia.  

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