Biden and Trump trade insults and accusations of lying during a heated presidential debate

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump addressed undecided voters Thursday night during the first debate of the presidential campaign, trading insults over differences on policy, immigration and who poses a threat to democracy.

During the debate at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, the two men argued over who could do better for Americans over the next four years on a wide range of issues, from the economy to climate change to foreign policy. Each repeatedly accused the other of lying.

Biden spoke quietly at several points early in the debate, coughing and giving some slightly confusing answers. At one point, Biden seemed to lose the thread and ended his response by saying that “we finally beat Medicare.”

The two disagreed sharply on access to reproductive rights, including abortion, with Trump arguing that the Democrats’ position was “radical” and Biden saying leaving the decision up to states was “terrible” for women.

Biden, 81, and Trump, 78, did not shake hands at the beginning, a move that has been a break in previous debates.

At the end of the debate, Trump said political violence was “totally unacceptable,” though he later downplayed the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol while defending the actions of his group of supporters.

Trump initially did not directly answer a question about whether he would accept the election results if he lost. When pressed, Trump conditioned his response.

It hits on personal behavior

Despite rules designed to limit disruptions, the debate — moderated by anchor and chief political correspondent Dana Bash and anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper — had its moments of bitterness.

While Trump has sharply criticized Biden’s border policies and Biden has sharply criticized his predecessor for appointing Supreme Court justices who have invalidated a constitutional right to abortion, their sharpest criticism has been directed at the other’s personal conduct.

Referring to reports that, as president, Trump said that veterans beaten in France during World War II were “suckers and suckers,” Biden cited his son Beau, who was a National Guard veteran and later died of brain cancer.

“My son was not a loser and he was not a sucker,” Biden told his predecessor, frowning. “You are a sucker. You are a loser.”

Trump has denied ever making the remark, first reported in The Atlantic and confirmed in other reports.

Biden has repeatedly attacked Trump’s credibility and truthfulness, saying after one of his responses: “Everything he said is a lie.”

“I have never heard so much bullshit in my life,” he said in response to another response from Trump.

Trump raised the issue of Biden’s son, Hunter, being convicted on federal firearms charges this year. He also said Joe Biden could face prosecution for his border security actions.

Trump and his legal team he argued before the Supreme Court in April that presidents have absolute personal immunity from criminal penalties.

Trump’s conviction

Thursday’s event was the first presidential debate to feature a convicted felon as one of the participants.

New York State jury in May Trump was found guilty 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels over her affair, which she testified Trump didn’t want to hurt his chances of winning the 2016 election.

Trump denied the affair and it did not affect his support among the Republican Party, although the July 11 verdict may affect his campaign strategy.

Trump rejected the conviction during the debate and maintained his position that he did not have a sexual relationship with the adult film star.

“I did not have sex with a porn star,” Trump said, the first time he had uttered such words or anything like it during a presidential debate.

“I did nothing wrong, we have a system that was rigged and disgusting,” Trump said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Trump also answered the question, referring to Hunter Biden.

“When he talks about a convicted felon, his son is a convicted felon,” Trump said.

January 6th Discord

The Supreme Court of the United States did a ruling is expected within days of another trial involving Trump, this time on whether presidents enjoy complete immunity from prosecution for their actions while in office.

The justices’ decision will determine whether the federal trial against Trump for election interference stemming from his actions on January 6, 2021, can proceed.

During the debate, Trump said that “on January 6, we were respected around the world,” but that changed after Biden took office.

Trump appeared to suggest that the people who stormed the Capitol building were “innocent” and “patriotic,” saying that “you should be ashamed” of those people who are in prison.

Biden said Trump encouraged “the people” who attacked the U.S. Capitol building and U.S. Capitol Police officers.

“If they are convicted, he says he wants to commute their sentences,” Biden said, criticizing Trump’s behavior that day. “These people should be in prison. They should be held accountable.”

Biden rejected the notion that the people who attacked police and disrupted election certification were patriots.

Divided on abortion rights

Reproductive rights — including access to abortion — have sharply divided Biden and Trump, who have argued over which political party is better.

Trump said he agrees with the US Supreme Court’s ruling decision taken earlier this month leaving access to mifepristone, one of two pharmaceuticals used in medical abortion. He also said he would not seek to restrict access if elected president in November.

“I agree with their decision and I will not block it,” Trump said, adding that the Supreme Court’s earlier decision to strike down a constitutional right to abortion was a good thing.

“We’re back in the states and the country is coming together on this,” Trump said. “It was a great thing.”

Trump has said he supports exceptions for rape, incest or female life.

Biden rejected Trump’s classification of Democrats as “radical” on abortion policy and said he supported restoring protections that existed under the Roe v. Wade ruling.

“It was a terrible thing,” Biden said of leaving decisions on abortion access to state lawmakers, comparing it to leaving decisions on civil rights to the states.

– Trump said in an interview with Time magazine released in April that his campaign was about to release a policy on mifepristone, one of two pharmaceutical drugs used in abortion. The campaign has not yet released those policies.

Trump suggested he would be OK with states restricting or blocking access to contraceptives during a May interview with a Pittsburgh television station. But he quickly I withdrew from these comments in a social media post.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, suggested that another Trump administration could block shipments of mifepristone by enforcing the Comstock Act.

The group included this proposal, along with dozens of others, in Project 2025, its 920-page project for the second Trump administration.

The Anti-Obscenity Act of 1873 it has not been enforced for decades and is being referred to as “zombie law” by reproductive rights groups, but technically it is still law.

A future Republican attorney general who wants to enforce the law blocking the shipment of mifepristone will most likely have to challenge it in court, and the case will probably go to the Supreme Court.

Mifepristone is one of two medications for medical abortion approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for utilize up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. According to the Guttmacher Institute, two-drug therapy accounts for about 63% of all abortions in the United States.

The first of two debates

This year’s two presidential debates are a departure from previous years in which both candidates participated abandonment of the proposed schedule from the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

Biden and Trump he later agreed for two debates, one hosted by CNN on Thursday and the other on September 10, hosted by ABC News.

CNN opted to hold the debate in its studios in Atlanta, Georgia, without an audience. Thursday night’s debate also took place earlier than any other presidential debate, which traditionally begins in September or October.

The television news network caused frustration ahead of a debate with the White House Correspondents’ Association when it decided that Pool, a group of journalists who travel everywhere with the president, would not be present.

Kelly O’Donnell, president of the WHCA, issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the organization was “deeply concerned that CNN has denied our repeated requests to have the White House travel pool on the studio lot.”

“The pool is for “what if?” in a world where the unexpected happens,” wrote O’Donnell, who is also NBC News’ senior White House correspondent. “There is a collective reporter present who provides context and insights through direct observation rather than through the lens of television production.”

CNN rules also stated that neither Biden nor Trump could bring any props or pre-written notes into the debate area.

Each stood behind a “uniform podium” and was not allowed to contact campaign staff during two commercial breaks.

Immediately after the debate ended, Biden was scheduled to travel with first lady Jill Biden to Raleigh, North Carolina. They are scheduled to attend campaign events on Friday morning and travel to New York later that day.

The Bidens are expected to travel to Red Bank, New Jersey, on Saturday to continue campaigning, before returning to Camp David, the presidential residence in Maryland.

Trump will attend a campaign rally on Friday afternoon in Chesapeake, Virginia. In a message announcing the event, Trump criticized Biden on inflation, crime and drug addiction, and immigration.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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