Fact check: The final 2020 presidential election debate

In the first debate, Trump’s dishonesty eclipsed Biden’s misstatements, as the President repeated some of his more frequent lies while talking over both his opponent and the moderator. In an attempt to avoid some of the chaos of that first encounter, each candidate’s microphone will be muted during portions of Thursday’s debate to allow their opponent to answer questions uninterrupted.

NBC’s Kristen Welker is moderator for the 90-minute event and plans to focus on six main topics. On the first announced topic, fighting Covid-19, Trump has consistently misled the American public, including as recently as his “60 Minutes” interview. During an excerpt which the President released ahead of the episode’s airing this weekend, Trump falsely claimed the US has turned the corner on the pandemic.

Among the other topics that Trump and Biden will be asked to address tonight are race in America, climate change, national security, American families and leadership.

CNN will be fact-checking both candidates throughout the night.


Trump: Coronavirus is ‘going away’

Trump claimed the virus is going away. “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away,” Trump said.

Facts First: This is false. The US coronavirus situation — as measured by newly confirmed cases, hospitalizations and the test positivity rate — is getting worse, not better. There is no basis for his vague claim that we are “rounding the corner.”

Trump has baselessly claimed for eight months that the virus would disappear or was currently disappearing.

Holmes Lybrand

Trump: 2.2 million people were initially expected to die from coronavirus

Trump claimed 2.2 million people were “expected to die.”

Facts First: This is false.

Trump is likely citing a report posted in March by scholars from the Imperial College in London that predicted that a total of 2.2 million Americans could die from Covid-19 if no preventative measures were installed on any level of society.

In other words, that would be the loss of lives if no action were taken at all to mitigate it.

The report did not analyze what would happen if just the federal government took no action against the virus but rather what would occur if there were absolutely no “control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behavior.”

Holmes Lybrand and Tara Subramaniam

Trump: Biden called him “xenophobic” following travel restrictions on China

“When I closed and banned China from coming in … he was saying I was xenophobic, I did it too soon,” Trump said.

Facts First: This needs context.

It’s not clear the former vice president even knew about Trump’s China travel restrictions when he called Trump xenophobic on the day the restrictions were unveiled; Biden has never explicitly linked his accusation of xenophobia to these travel restrictions.

Biden’s campaign announced in early April that he supports Trump’s travel restrictions on China. But the campaign did not say the former vice president had previously been wrong about the ban, much less apologize. Rather, the campaign says Biden’s January 31 accusations — that Trump has a record of “hysterical xenophobia” and “fear mongering” — were not about the travel restrictions at all.

The campaign says Biden did not know about the restrictions at the time of his speech, since his campaign event in Iowa started shortly after the Trump administration briefing where the restrictions were revealed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Given the timing of the Biden remarks, it’s not unreasonable for the Trump campaign to infer that the former vice president was talking about the travel restrictions. But Biden never took an explicit position on the restrictions until his April declaration of support.

Holmes Lybrand

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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