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LIVE: Fact-checking the final Trump-Biden debate

  • President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden took the debate stage for the final time Thursday night ahead of the 2020 general election.
  • The debate was moderated by NBC News' Kristen Welker and focused on six main topics: COVID-19, race, climate change, national security, leadership, and American families.
  • The debate comes as Biden holds a hefty lead over Trump in a number of national and state polls, and as the Trump campaign levels new allegations of corruption against Biden based on unverified and unsubstantiated information that Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has circulated in conservative media.
  • Scroll down to follow Business Insider's live fact-check of the debate.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump and the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden took the stage for the final time Thursday night in what was a contentious and fiery debate ahead of the November general election.

NBC's Kristen Welker moderated the debate, and the evening focused on six key topics: COVID-19, race, climate change, national security, leadership, and American families. The debate began at 9 p.m. ET, and Welker allotted 15 minutes of discussion for each topic.

Thursday's event comes just weeks after the first Trump-Biden debate, in which the president drew widespread backlash for repeatedly interrupting Biden. In the wake of that debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to allow a third party to mute the candidates' microphones to allow each contender two minutes of uninterrupted speaking time at the start of each topic. The commission said it was implementing the rule change to "ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues."

With fewer than two weeks left to go until Election Day on November 3, Thursday is Trump and Biden's last chance to appeal to a broad group of potential voters. Biden currently holds a hefty lead over Trump; according to FiveThirtyEight's latest forecast, the president currently has a 12% chance of winning a second term, while Biden has a 88% chance. The data website's national poll tracker also shows that Biden has nearly a 10-point lead over Trump.

Scroll down to follow along as Business Insider fact-checks Thursday's debate.


Trump: "We closed up the greatest economy in the world in order to fight this horrible disease that came from China. The mortality rate is down 85%, the excess mortality rate is way down and much lower than almost any other country. There are some spikes and surges in other places, they will soon be gone. We have a vaccine … it's going to be announced within weeks. Now they say I'm immune, whether it's four months or a lifetime, nobody's been able to say that, but I'm immune. I've been congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we've been able to do. We're rounding the turn, we're rounding the corner. It's going away."

Fact check: Trump's statement that the US's mortality rate is "way down and much lower than almost any other country" is inaccurate. As The Financial Times noted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the US mortality rate is higher than 300,000, which is more than almost any other country.

Trump has also repeatedly said that a new COVID-19 vaccine will be released within weeks, but CDC Director Robert Redfield recently told Congress: "If you're asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we're probably looking at late second quarter, third quarter 2021."

The president's claim that he is "immune" from COVID-19 is also misleading. As Business Insider previously reported, scientists say there is no reliable indicator of immunity from the novel coronavirus.

On Trump's contention that the US is "rounding the corner," Forbes reported that as of last week, Trump made the same statement on 28 out of the last 46 days. The majority of US states are continuing to see sharp increases in new cases and hospitalizations.

Trump: The president repeatedly attacked Biden over the handling of the swine flu, known as H1N1.

Fact-check: Biden wasn't president when the H1N1 pandemic struck the US in 2009, and he wasn't spearheading the federal response to it; President Barack Obama was. H1N1 also killed far fewer Americans — 14,000 — than COVID-19 has.

National security

Biden: "His own national security adviser told him that what is happening with his buddy, Rudy Giuliani, he's being used as a Russian pawn, he's being fed information that is Russian — that is not true. And then what happens? Nothing happens. And then you find out that everything that's going on here about Russia is wanting to make sure that I do not get elected the next President of the United States because they know I know them and they know me."

Fact check: The former VP was referring to a recent Washington Post report that said US officials warned the White House last year that Russian operatives were using Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to funnel disinformation to Trump.

One source told The Post that the message to Trump was, "Do what you want to do, but your friend Rudy has been worked by Russian assets in Ukraine."

According to the report, Trump responded by shrugging and saying, "That's Rudy."

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