Final 2020 presidential debate

By Meg Wagner, Kyle Blaine, Jessica Estepa, Melissa Macaya and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 2:27 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020
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2:14 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

This is what Trump's SCOTUS nominee could mean for Obamacare

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Clare Foran

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, arrives for closed meetings with senators, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, October 21.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, arrives for closed meetings with senators, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, October 21. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

President Trump was just asked about his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Democrats have focused on the Affordable Care Act during her confirmation hearing, as the Supreme Court is set to soon take up a case on the health care law.

During her confirmation hearings in the Senate, Barrett said she had made no commitments to the President or anyone else about how she might rule on a case aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act or on a potential dispute in the upcoming presidential election.

Barrett vowed that she had not discussed specific cases, like the upcoming challenge to the Affordable Care Act, with Trump or anyone else when she was nominated to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death threw the Senate into a pitched election-year confirmation battle that could swing the court in a more conservative direction.

"Absolutely not. I was never asked, and if I had been that would've been a short conversation," Barrett said during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing when she was asked whether she had committed to vote to repeal the health care law.

The Supreme Court will hear a case on Nov. 10 on whether to strike down the Affordable Care Act, which means Barrett could be on the bench if Republicans are successful in confirming her before Election Day, Nov. 3.

The legal challenge to former President Barack Obama's signature health care law loomed over Barrett's hearing: Democrats raised the care that the Affordable Care Act has provided to individuals, continuing their theme from Monday, while Republicans attacked the law.

Barrett pushed back on Democrats' arguments during her confirmation hearing that her previous criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate in 2012 was a sign of how she would potentially rule in next month's case. She said that her writing then was in an academic setting and argued that it had no bearing on the upcoming challenge the law.

"I am not hostile to the ACA. I'm not hostile to any statute that you pass," Barrett said. "I apply the law, I follow the law, you make the policy."

9:50 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Here's what would happen if Obamacare disappears

From CNN's Tami Luhby, Jeremy Herb and Clare Foran

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were just asked about health care and the Affordable Care Act.

President Trump pledged in 2016 to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but that hasn’t happened. Now his administration is backing a court challenge that’s scheduled for the Supreme Court just after the election in a case brought by a coalition of Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration, who argue the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the entire law must fall.

Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was grilled by Democrats about the health care law during her confirmation hearings. Barrett said she had made no commitments to the President or anyone else about how she might rule on a case aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act or on a potential dispute in the upcoming presidential election.

If the court wipes away Obamacare, it would have a sweeping impact on the nation's health care system and on the lives of tens of millions of Americans — not only for the roughly 20 million people who've gained coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges and through the expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults.

The law is also what allows parents to keep their children on their health insurance plans until age 26 and obtain free mammograms, cholesterol checks and birth control. And one of its most popular provisions is its strong protections for those with pre-existing conditions, including barring insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on people's health histories.

Read more here.

9:56 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Fact check: Trump's claim that Biden called him "xenophobic" following travel restrictions on China

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

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

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. 

See the exchange:

 

9:51 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Biden hits Trump over recently revealed Chinese bank account

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden answers a question and President Donald Trump listens during the second and final presidential debate Thursday in Nashville.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden answers a question and President Donald Trump listens during the second and final presidential debate Thursday in Nashville. Morry Gash/Pool/AP

After President Donald Trump unleashed a series of unsubstantiated claims about Joe Biden’s personal finances, the former vice president hit back, citing a recent New York Times story that revealed the President keeps a previously undisclosed bank account in China.

“I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life,” Biden said. “We learned that this President paid 50 times the tax in China (that he has in the US), has a secret bank account with China, does business in China, and, in fact is talking about me taking money? I have not taken a single penny from any country whatsoever, ever.”

Biden then turned to Trump’s taxes – and the President's refusal, even now, to make them public. The Times report that uncovered the extent of Trump’s business ambitions in China, along with the bank account, was rooted in tax information that Trump had tried to keep secret.

“You have not released a single solitary year of your tax returns,” Biden said, before suggesting there was more to find out about the President’s overseas dealings. “What are you hiding? Why are you unwilling?”

Trump had opened the door to the conversation with a suggestion that Biden had gotten rich off his previous spells in high office. But, as Biden noted, he has released more than two decades of tax returns and there is no evidence to back Trump’s assertion.

“Release your tax returns,” Biden concluded, “or stop talking about corruption.”

Watch the moment:

2:12 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

How Trump and Biden compare on foreign policy

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on October 22 in Nashville.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on October 22 in Nashville. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The debate has moved to the topic of national security and the candidates are being asked about their stances on the United States' relationship with China, Iran and North Korea.

Here's a look at how the candidates compare on foreign policy issues:

A central argument of Joe Biden's campaign for president is that the former vice president has extensive foreign policy experience from his eight years serving in the White House and from traveling the globe as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In June, Biden pledged to undo President Donald Trump's foreign policy moves in a speech in which he laid out how he would seek to restore pre-Trump international norms and "place America back at the head of the table."

The centerpiece of Biden's effort to return to international cooperation is a summit that Biden said he would call among the world's democracies, non-governmental organizations and corporations — particularly tech and social media companies — to seek a common agenda to protect their shared values.

Such a summit would push companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter — where Russian trolls reached American voters during the 2016 election — to combat challenges such as surveillance, censorship and the spread of hate speech.

While in the Senate, Biden voted to authorize the war in Iraq in 2002. Like other Democrats who voted yes, Biden has spent the years since apologizing for it as the conflict became increasingly unpopular with the American public and Democratic voters.

Trump has touted wins in the Middle East, with the recent signing of the “Abraham Accords” to normalize relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel and the subsequent normalization of relations between Bahrain and Israel. He campaigned on bringing troops back from overseas, but his decision to withdraw most troops from Syria drew wide condemnation – and the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis. He has said he wants troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas despite US officials saying any withdrawal would be “conditions-based.”

Trump’s “America First” foreign policy moves have seen the US abandon multilateral organizations and international agreements and at times alienate traditional allies.

The President has sought to undo the accomplishments of his predecessor, Barack Obama. In June 2017, Trump announced he would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. That withdrawal will be complete on November 4 – the day after the election.

He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and has pursued a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran without the support of key European allies. During the Trump administration, Iran has reduced its commitments under the landmark agreement.

In June 2018, the administration quit the United Nations Human Rights Council, with then-US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accusing the body of bias against US ally Israel and a failure to hold human rights abusers accountable.

Trump severed ties with the World Health Organization earlier this year as the pandemic raged on, accusing the international body of being beholden to China.

He has embraced adversaries of the US, meeting twice with Kim Jong Un and exchanging fond notes with the North Korean dictator. Neither summit has succeeded in restraining North Korea’s missile tests and working level talks have broken down.

He has failed to offer strong denunciations against Russia’s misdeeds, and following a meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin in July 2018, Trump sided with the Russian leader and against his intelligence community on Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump has also advocated for allowing Russia back into the G7 – the international group of nations from which it was suspended in 2014 – despite its continued illegal annexation of Crimea.

1:34 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

What Biden and Trump said about New York state's response to the coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump answers a question as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden listens during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville.
President Donald Trump answers a question as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden listens during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville. Morry Gash/Pool/AP

New York, one of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, took center stage tonight during the final presidential debate as Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Trump disagreed on how the state has handled the health crisis.

Trump called New York City "a ghost town," where restaurants "are dying" due to shutdowns and its Democratic-led government.

"If you go and look at what's happened to New York, it's a ghost town. It's a ghost town. And when you talk about Plexiglas, these are restaurants that are dying. These are businesses with no money," Trump said. "Putting up Plexiglas is unbelievably expensive, and it's not the answer. I mean, you're going to sit there in a cubicle wrapped around with plastic? These are businesses that are dying, Joe. You can't do that to people. You just can't — take a look at New York and what's happened to my wonderful city for so many years. I loved it. It was vibrant. It's dying. Everyone's leaving New York."

Biden championed New York state for stemming the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths.

"Take a look at what New York has done in terms of turning the curve down in terms of the number of people dying. And I don't look at this in the terms that he does, blue states and red states. They're all the United States," Biden said. "And look at the states that are having such a spike in the coronavirus. They're the red states. They're the states in the midwest. They're the states in the upper midwest. That's where the spike is occurring significantly. But they're all Americans. They're all Americans. And what we have to do is say wear these masks, number one."

More about the pandemic in New York City: The New York City public school system, the largest school district in the country, has so far been able to reopen for in-person instruction without a massive outbreak of coronavirus cases.

Aside from New York City, the remaining nine of the nation's top 10 school districts started their school years online. New York's preliminary success could potentially serve as a resource for other districts embarking on a return to in-person learning.

Meanwhile, a new study said that nearly two-thirds of New York restaurants could be out of business as soon as January without some sort of additional government aid.

Restaurants across the Empire State have been struggling to stay in business since the coronavirus pandemic forced them to shut down in March. On Sept. 3, the New York State Restaurant Association released the findings from its latest survey of more than 1,000 restaurateurs across the state.

Nearly 64% of restaurant owners said they are likely or somewhat likely to close by the end of this year unless they receive financial relief. And about 55% of those who are likely to close said they expect to shut down before November.

Only about 36% said they expect to still be in business by January.

Some context about a surge in Covid-19 cases nationwide: The US is now grappling with a new Covid-19 surge — one that could overwhelm hospitals, kill thousands of Americans a day by January and leave even young survivors with long-term complications.

"We went down to the lowest point lately in early September, around 30,000-35,000 new cases a day. Now we're back up to (about) 50,000 new cases a day. And it's going to continue to rise," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said on Oct. 13.

"This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about. And now it's happening. And it's happening especially in the northern Midwest, and the Northern states are getting hit very hard — Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas. But it's going to be nationally soon enough."

Across the country, more than 30 states have reported more Covid-19 cases this past week than they reported the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

9:49 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Trump on further lockdowns over coronavirus: "We can't close our nation"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville on Thursday.
President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville on Thursday. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

After a lengthy section on coronavirus, the key distinction President Donald Trump sought to make was his aversion to any further lockdowns to prevent further contagion.

“We can’t close our nation,” Trump said. “We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does.”

His argument, even as Biden insisted he favored adhering to benchmarks that would govern when states open or apply new restrictions, was that Democratic governors have placed their states in undue lockdowns.

Instead, Trump said the focus should be on protecting vulnerable populations; it’s the same goal of a controversial plan called the Great Barrington Declaration that his administration has endorsed but which other health experts have said is dangerous.

“We have to open up,” Trump said. “We have to protect our elderly.”

Biden, meanwhile, used a new line suggesting his goal was not to keep the country locked down.

"Shut down the virus, not the country,” he said — a catchy slogan, though not one that provides a lot of explanation for his plan.

Here's the moment:

9:50 p.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Fact check: Trump falsely claimed 2.2 million people were "expected to die" from Covid-19

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand and Tara Subramaniam 

In response to the first question of the night on coronavirus, President 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.” 

2:08 a.m. ET, October 23, 2020

Trump downplays fundraising struggles: "We don't need money. We have plenty of money."

From CNN's Dan Merica

President Donald Trump answers a question during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville.
President Donald Trump answers a question during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville. Morry Gash/Pool/AP

President Trump downplayed his struggles with campaign fundraising on Thursday night, telling the debate audience that his campaign has “plenty of money” despite its shrinking bank account.

“I could blow away your records like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said of Biden’s strong fundraising. “We don’t need money. We have plenty of money.”

Trump pointed to the fact that he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 with a “tiny fraction” of the money she raised.

Biden and the Democratic Party outraised Trump and the Republicans by $135 million in September — $383 million to $247.8 million.

Trump’s comments came during an attempt to attack Biden for taking money from Wall Street. Biden noted that his campaign’s average contribution is $43.

Watch the exchange: