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Trump camp blasts move by 'biased' debate commission to mute candidate mics at final face-off

Trump 2020 senior adviser Jason Miller charged Monday that the Commission on Presidential Debates had revealed its anti-Trump bias by changing rules and topics heading into Thursday's second and final final debate in Nashville.

Updated: October 19, 2020 - 11:11pm

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The Trump campaign is denouncing the decision by the Commission on Presidential Debates to mute the candidates' microphones after two-minute responses during Thursday's final presidential debate.

The president's campaign charged Monday that several late changes to rules and topics for the second and final face-off between the president and the former vice president reveal the anti-Trump bias of the debate commission.

"President Trump is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last-minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate," Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement Monday night after the decision was announced. 

In a call with reporters Monday prior to the announcement about the microphones, Trump 2020 senior adviser Jason Miller slammed the debate commission for summarily expanding the topics for Thursday's debate at Belmont University in Nashville.  

"I want to make it very clear how they're putting their foot on the scale with regard to this third [scheduled] debate," Miller said. "This was supposed to be the foreign policy debate — the final debate is always the foreign policy debate. It was like that in 2016, it has been like that for election cycle after election cycle." 

On Friday, the commission announced the topics for the debate, to be moderated by NBC News' Kristen Welker, would be: "Fighting COVID-19," "American Families," "Race in America," "Climate Change," "National Security" and "Leadership." 

"This was supposed to be the foreign policy debate, so the President still looks forward to forcing Biden to answer the number one relevant question of whether he's been compromised by the Communist Party of China," said Stepien. "Why did Biden allow his son Hunter to sell access to him while he was vice president, and why were there Chinese payment arrangements for Joe himself worked out by Hunter and his sketchy partners? If the media won't ask Joe Biden these questions, the President will, and there will be no escape for Biden."

"The debate commission is now trying to change the rules and make this about a whole host of different issues," Miller said. "And we believe this is the request of the Biden campaign that does not want to talk about Joe Biden's support for endless wars, his support for sending those pallets of cash to Iran, the fact that Joe Biden appears to be compromised by the Chinese Communist Party as we look at this money coming into Hunter. It was clear the Biden camp does not want to talk foreign policy. It is clear the debate commission is bending over backwards to try to help out the Biden campaign." 

"We realize, after discussions with both campaigns, that neither campaign may be totally satisfied with the measures announced today," the debate commission said in a statement. "One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough. We are comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and that they are in the interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held."

The Biden campaign did not responded to a request for comment from Just the News. 

The Trump campaign's concerns of bias in the debate commission were shared by GOP elder statesman Bob Dole prior to the canceled second presidential debate. President Trump thanked Dole for his support after the president announced he would not participate in the second debate if it was conducted in a virtual format, as the commission desired. 

"The Commission on Presidential Debates is supposedly bipartisan w/ an equal number of Rs and Ds," Dole tweeted. "I know all of the Republicans and most are friends of mine. I am concerned that none of them support @realDonaldTrump. A biased Debate Commission is unfair."

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Trump on Monday repeated his concerns that Welker would not be an objective moderator. Welker temporarily disabled her Twitter account just weeks prior to Thursday's debate. The account has since been restored.

"The fact that Kristen Welker is a dyed-in-the-wool, radical-left Democrat — or whatever she is … Why are you defending her?" Trump pointed to a reporter in protest standing outside Air Force Once. "Then ask her: Why did she delete her account? Would you please have her put her account back? And you know what?  It's not going to affect — I know you want to stick up. It's not going to affect me. I'm going to be there. But, you know, I told you about the last one, and I was right.  And I told you about [Trump townhall moderator] Savannah Guthrie, and I was right. And I'm telling you about Kristen Welker. Kristen Welker should put all of her statements back on. She deleted her entire account. She shouldn't do that." 

Trump on Saturday called Welker "terrible & unfair" in reaction to reporting by the New York Post about the Welker family's history of campaign donations to Democrats.

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"She's always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters, but I'll still play the game," he tweeted Saturday in reply to his son Donald Trump, Jr. tweeting out the Post's article.

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