Chris Wallace and Trump campaign adviser quibble over first family's lack of masks at debate

"After the First Family came in they all took off their masks. So did the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?" Wallace asked.

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Chris Wallace on September 29, 2020
Chris Wallace on September 29, 2020
(Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Updated: October 4, 2020 - 2:10pm

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Chris Wallace during this week's episode of "Fox News Sunday" repeatedly questioned Trump campaign senior adviser Steve Cortez about the Trump family and chief of staff failing to wear face masks during the first presidential debate earlier this week.

Wallace, who moderated the first debate, said that the rules required everyone to sport a face mask except for himself, President Trump, and former Vice President Biden. 

"After the First Family came in they all took off their masks," Wallace said. "So did the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?" 

"No, that's not the reality," Cortez responded. "Look, everybody was tested before that event, as you well know. Those of us who went first were tested by Cleveland Clinic directly. Everybody who gets on Air Force One for any trip on Air Force One is tested before they get on."

"Steve, it doesn't matter," Wallace interrupted. "Steve, everybody that was in that room was tested." Wallace again added that the rules demanded everyone aside from himself and the two candidates use masks.

"And people from the Cleveland Clinic came over and offered the First Family masks, thinking maybe they didn't have them, they were waived away. And the Commission on Presidential Debates has issued a statement saying from now on if you don't wear a mask you're gonna be escorted from the hall," Wallace said. "Everybody was told to wear a mask. Why did the First Family and the chief of staff feel that the rules for everybody else didn't apply to them?"

Cortez countered that personal decisions play a role.

"We also believe in some element of individual choice," Cortez said. "People were distanced and they had been tested."

Wallace again said that the lack of masks violated the rules. 

"No, Steve they weren't distanced and there were rules, and there was no, there was no freedom of choice," Wallace said. "They broke the rules."

Cortez said Wallace's behavior was reminiscent of the journalist's debate moderation, arguing that Trump had to debate both Biden and Wallace. "You were not a neutral moderator then," Cortez said.

Wallace countered that "the president interrupted me and the vice president 145 times so I object to saying I harangued the president, I know it's the talking point."

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