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'Clown,' 'Racist,' 'You're not smart': First presidential debate devolves into name-calling slug fest

President Donald Trump refused to denounce white supremacist groups, saying "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by."
President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden traded taunts during the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden traded taunts during the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday. Reuters; Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Well, we've never seen a presidential debate like that before.

Americans were sideshow spectators last night to a political spectacle that NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, who has been covering presidential debates since 1976, labelled "a disgrace."

Here's what everyone is talking about this Wednesday morning.


Trump derails debate as first Biden clash turns into unruly slugfest

The first presidential debate Tuesday quickly devolved into name-calling, shouting and insults as President Donald Trump steamrolled the debate rules and Democratic nominee Joe Biden fired back.

Trump talked constantly through the 90-minute debate, while moderator Chris Wallace tried, without much success, to rein him in.

"I think the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I'm appealing to you, sir, to do that," Wallace told Trump.

But his entreaty was largely ignored and the slugfest of mocking taunts and interruptions continued.

Biden called Trump a "racist," a "clown" and "the worst president we've ever had," at one point saying, "Will you shut up, man?"

The tone of the debate was unlike that of any televised presidential matchup before, a shift that commentators described as "embarrassing" and a "dumpster fire" fueled by Trump's disregard for the rules negotiated by his own campaign.

One of the most significant moments of the evening came when Wallace asked the president whether he was willing to condemn white supremacists and "militia" groups that have inflamed violence at nationwide protests.

Trump appeared irritated and demanded to know whom he was being asked to condemn. When the far-right group called the Proud Boys was mentioned, Trump said: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," and then pivoted into an attack on "antifa and the left."

The extremist group with ties to white nationalism were energized by the shout out and immediately adopted it as a rallying cry on social media.


Breonna Taylor grand jury records will offer a rare glimpse into secret system

On Wednesday, Kentucky authorities will give the public a rare glimpse at a secret aspect of the criminal justice system when they release recordings of the grand jury that weighed the case of three police officers who opened fire in the raid in Louisville, Kentucky, that killed Breonna Taylor.

The unusual move comes a week after the grand jury indicted one of the officers, Brett Hankison, for wanton endangerment, but did not charge any of the three officers in Taylor’s death.

The lack of other charges set off protests in Louisville and around the country and prompted a motion in court by one of the 12 Jefferson County grand jury members to release records of the panel’s work "so that truth may prevail."

NBC News' Jon Schuppe takes an in-depth look at how grand juries became an integral — and divisive — piece of the criminal justice system.


'Fire fatigue': Evacuations hit wine country as blazes continue to overwhelm California

Napa County residents are being evacuated with more preparing to leave as the Glass Fire scorches through wine country amid a horrific fire season for the West Coast.

Evacuation orders were issued Tuesday as the wildfire expanded to 42,500 acres and zero percent containment over Napa and Sonoma counties, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

Authorities said the Glass Fire, which began overnight Sunday, has already destroyed 80 residences.

Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick warned Tuesday that many might be experiencing "fire fatigue"— especially as the three-year mark of the devastating Tubbs fire looms.

"This is our fourth major fire in our community since 2017," Essick said. "Many people are feeling the effects. Many people are evacuating who have evacuated multiple times."

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Quote of the day

"I hate to raise my voice, but why should I be different than the two of you?"

— Exasperated debate moderator Chris Wallace trying to maintain order on Tuesday night.


One funny thing, but not if you're a 'Potterhead'

Oh no! Time for a vanishing spell!

Some Harry Potter enthusiasts had waited for hours at a train station in Scotland for a chance to glimpse the "Hogwarts Express" as it passed by.

But a local train got in the way and blocked their view as the famous locomotive chugged by.

Darn! Maybe they'll have to head to platform Nine and Three-Quarters and try to catch the next one...


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra