Trump and Biden hold dueling town halls

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

Updated 8:20 AM ET, Fri October 16, 2020
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9:49 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Fact check: Trump falsely claims "thousands of ballots" were found in dumpsters  

From CNN's Paul Murphy

President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami on Thursday.
President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami on Thursday. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump expanded on a false claim that he’s made previously, saying that “thousands of ballots” had been found in dumpsters. 

“Thousands of them are dumped in dumpsters and when you see ballots with the name Trump — military ballots, from our great military, and they’re dumped in garbage cans,” the President said in the NBC town hall.  

He went on to claim that the “thousands of ballots” were found with “my name on it.”

Facts First: This is false. There have been two incidents where ballots were found in a dumpster or trash can: 99 ballots heading to voters in New Jersey and nine ballots “incorrectly discarded” by a temporary worker in Pennsylvania.  

In New Jersey, the Justice Department charged a mail worker with two felonies for tossing 1,875 pieces of mail that included 99 ballots in two dumpsters. The ballots, which were being sent to voters, were immediately delivered after the US Postal Service learned about them being tossed in the trash. 

This isn’t the first time the President has lied about ballots being found in the trash. He’s repeatedly lied about ballots being found in a trash can in Pennsylvania.  

According to federal and local authorities, an election worker improperly threw out nine military ballots in Luzerne County. The Justice Department initially said all nine ballots were marked for Trump, then deleted its initial statement and issued a new one saying seven were Trump votes. Local officials said they would try to reach the affected voters and fix the ballots.  

9:48 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Fact check: Biden falsely claims Trump did nothing on unemployment after congressional aid expired

From CNN's Tami Luhby

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed President Trump for not helping the jobless after the $600 weekly supplement for unemployment benefits – which Congress passed as part of its $2 trillion relief package — lapsed in late July.  

“And then what happened was, when the first round of money for unemployment, enhanced unemployment went by, he didn't do anything. He didn't do anything,” Biden said.  

Facts first: This is false. The day after congressional talks to extend the federal boost to unemployment benefits collapsed, Trump signed an executive measure to use $44 billion in federal disaster aid to provide $300 a week to the jobless.   

The effort provides out-of-work Americans in 49 states and the District of Columbia with these funds for up to six weeks. The money has already been fully distributed in many states.   

South Dakota declined to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program. 

9:38 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Biden promises to reverse Trump's transgender policies

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden answers a question from a guest.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden answers a question from a guest. Source: ABC

Joe Biden on Thursday said he will reverse the Trump administration executive orders that a questioner described as “dangerous and discriminatory.”

Unfurling an old yarn, Biden told the story of seeing two men, “well-dressed,” kissing one another while he was with his father many years ago.

“My dad turned to me,” Biden recalled. “He said, ‘Joey, it’s simple. They love each other.’”

Biden then returned to the present day and declared, “There should be zero discrimination.”

“There is no reason to suggest that there should be any right denied to your daughter,” Biden said, “that your other daughter has a right to be and do. None. Zero.”

The former vice president also noted that his late son Beau Biden, who served as Delaware’s attorney general, backed the state's first transgender rights law.

“I’m proud of that,” Biden said.

9:37 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

CNN's Dana Bash: Trump's "non-answer" to being tested before first debate "was an answer"

From CNN's Leinz Vales

CNN's Dana Bash said Thursday that President Trump refusal to say if he was tested on the day for the first presidential debate is "not something you forget."

"If the President took a test the night of the debate, he would have said 'I took a test the night of the debate,'" Bash said. "His non-answer was an answer."

At Trump's town hall with NBC, he said he did not recall taking a coronavirus test before the first presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden. 

"I don't know, I don't even remember. I test all the time. I can tell you this. After the debate, like, I guess, a day or so, I think it was Thursday evening, maybe even late Thursday evening, uh, I tested positive. That's when I first found out," the President said.

Bash cited former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's statement about the severity of his coronavirus diagnosis and hospitalization and his call for Americans to take the pandemic seriously.

"The leaders of this country, meaning the President, even though he didn't say it, have to stop being so cavalier about this," Bash said. "And not getting a test and putting in danger the people who are in that room, including his opponent for the presidency is as cavalier and careless as it can be."

9:29 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Fact check: Biden's claim on children and vaccines

From CNN's Tami Luhby

Answering a question about vaccines, former vice president Joe Biden talked about the coronavirus’ impact on children. 

“Children are getting the virus, not with as serious consequences, but we haven’t, there's been no studies done yet on vaccines for children,” he said. 

 Facts first: Biden is correct about research in the US, though a leading drugmaker just this week revealed plans to include children in its vaccine research. Pfizer plans to start testing its experimental coronavirus vaccine in children as young as 12, the researcher helping lead the trial told CNN on Tuesday. It will be the first coronavirus vaccine trial to include children in the United States. 


9:34 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Fact check: Trump's claim on Osama bin Laden conspiracy

From CNN'sTara Subramaniam

NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie, who was moderating President's Trump town hall, asked about the QAnon-affiliated conspiracy theory Trump had retweeted earlier this week claiming Osama bin Laden was still alive and that the man killed in the raid was a body double. 

Trump defended his actions, saying, "That was a retweet. That was an opinion of somebody, and that was a retweet. I'll put it out there. People can decide for themselves. I don't take a position." 

Facts First: This is a baseless claim with no evidence to back it up. The facts around the killing of bin Laden are not a debatable opinion. 

In the early morning hours of May 2, 2011, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces during a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A DNA test was conducted, confirming it was bin Laden. He was buried at sea.

Those are the facts.

You can read more of the facts behind this conspiracy theory here.  

9:38 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Biden to questioner on whether Trump deserves foreign policy credit: "A little, but not a whole lot"

From CNN's Dan Merica

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden responds to a question from a guest.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden responds to a question from a guest. Source: ABC

Joe Biden said that while Donald Trump deserves “a little” credit for some of his foreign policy moves, he does not deserve “a whole lot” because of the way he has hurt the United States’ standing on the international stage.

The response came to a pro-Trump questioner who argued that the Republican leader has scored a host of wins on the international stage. When asked directly is Trump’s foreign police “deserve some credit,” Biden bluntly responded, “A little, but not a whole lot.”

“We find ourselves in a position where we’re more isolated in the world than we’ve ever been. Our 'go it alone, America first' has made America alone,” Biden said. “You have Iran closer to having enough nuclear material to build a bomb. North Korea has more bombs and missiles available to it. We find ourselves where our NATO allies are publicly saying they can’t count on us.”

Biden added that he does “compliment the President” on deals he helped strike that had Muslims nations normalizing relations with Israel, but that other than that, “we’re not very well trusted around the world.”

“I would respectfully suggest no, there is no plan, no coherent plan, for foreign policy,” Biden said. “He’s pulled out of almost every international organization, he gets laughed at when he goes to — literally, not figuratively — when he goes to the United Nations.”

A boast Trump delivered during his 2018 speech to the United Nations drew laughs from the international audience.

9:39 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Biden faces tough question on his refusal to ban fracking

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Source: ABC

Confronted with the harm caused by fracking, Biden doubled down on his opposition to a ban on the practice.

He conceded that the emission of methane was a concern, along with small earthquakes caused by drilling, but argued that could be dealt with by being “managed very, very well.”

Biden then pivoted to his support, now and in the past, for renewable energy projects and investment. He pointed to his work, during the Obama administration, on the response to the economic crisis of 2008 and efforts to bring down the cost of wind and solar energy.

“It has great, great promise,” he said. “And it’s also the fastest growing employer in the energy industry.”

Biden’s answer matched his broader framing on most climate change questions, which is to make the argument for clean energy in the context of creating new and better-paying jobs to American workers.

Still, he made sure to distance himself from what he described as "the new green deal," the ambitious climate and economic framework supported by many progressives.

To the specific concerns about carbon-emitting extraction, Biden focused on “carbon capture” technology that, he said, would allow for a wider transition to green energy to happen while still using “some gasses.”

The goal, he reiterated, is to achieve “net-zero emissions” in the creation of energy – one of the top goals of climate activists across the world. 

9:31 p.m. ET, October 15, 2020

Trump says he would accept peaceful transfer of power, while continuing to cast doubt on election results

From CNN's Ali Main

After hesitating to make the commitment for weeks, President Trump said he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, but he continued to sow doubt on the election results and made baseless claims about Obama administration officials spying on his 2016 campaign. 

"They spied heavily on my campaign and they tried to take down a duly elected sitting president, and then they talk about 'will you accept a peaceful transfer?' And the answer is, yes, I will, but I want it to be an honest election and so does everybody else," the President said, adding, "when I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can and they happen to have my name on it, I'm not happy about it," in an NBC town hall on Thursday night.

In his exchange with NBC's Savannah Guthrie, he made a variety of false claims about "unsolicited" and "fraudulent ballots." You can read CNN's fact checks on thrown out ballots and unsolicited ballots

Presented with the claim by his own FBI director that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Trump again took a swipe at FBI Director Christopher Wray, saying "oh really? Then he's not doing a very good job."

Asked why he seemed to be laying the groundwork for doubt in the election results, the President claimed "I don't want that to happen."

"I want it to be clean and I...I really feel we're going to win, but I want this to be clean," Trump said.

After giving several answers riddled with election disinformation, the President gave his final thoughts on the matter: "Peaceful transfer...I absolutely want that, but ideally, I don't want a transfer because I want to win."