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Dueling town halls, a coronavirus-scarred advocate for masks and a happy lemur

Trump claimed he didn't know about the QAnon conspiracy theory and Biden called his own crime bill a "mistake."
With drastically different tones, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden appeared in dueling town halls Thursday.
With drastically different tones, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden appeared in dueling town halls Thursday. AP; Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Dueling town halls, a new coronavirus-scarred advocate for face masks and a happy lemur.

Here's what we're watching this Friday morning.

Trump and Biden clash on separate screens

The town hall meetings President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participated in Thursday night were markedly different in style and tone.

On NBC, Trump combatively sparred with the moderator, "TODAY" show anchor Savannah Guthrie, on everything from his own health and finances to Covid-19, conspiracy theories and retweets.

On ABC Biden engaged in a more sedate, policy-heavy discussion with anchor George Stephanopoulos on topics ranging from the Supreme Court and the 1994 crime bill to transgender rights.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Trump couldn't confirm whether he had tested negative for the coronavirus before the first presidential debate. "Possibly I did, possibly I didn't," he said, adding that he thought he was likely to have tested negative either that day or the day before.
  • In a testy exchange with Guthrie, Trump denounced white supremacy, but refused to condemn the QAnon conspiracy movement. "I just don’t know about QAnon," said Trump. Guthrie retorted, "You do know." He went on to say, "What I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia. And I agree with that."
  • On ABC, Biden said parts of the 1994 crime bill that he helped write were "bad" and that it was a mistake to support the measure which has been linked to the rise of mass incarceration with a disproportionate impact on Black Americans.
  • Biden remained non-committal on whether or not Democrats would move to add more seats to the Supreme Court if he wins the election. He said that he's still "not a fan" of "court packing" because it could lead to a tit-for-tat escalation.
  • NBC News fact-checked both Trump and Biden town hall events. Find out which claims were true and which were whoppers.
  • Watch the full NBC News town hall.

Feds examining whether alleged Hunter Biden emails are linked to a foreign intel operation

Federal investigators are examining whether the emails allegedly describing activities by Joe Biden and his son Hunter and found on a laptop at a Delaware repair shop are linked to a foreign intelligence operation, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The New York Post, a conservative tabloid, has published a series of stories based on emails the newspaper said it obtained from President Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

The first story highlighted what it called a “smoking gun email” that suggested a meeting between Vice President Biden and a representative of a Ukrainian company that once paid Hunter Biden. The Biden campaign says there is no evidence the meeting happened, and the story was greeted with widespread skepticism.

Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at basketball game in 2010.
"We have no idea where this came from, and certainly cannot credit anything that Rudy Giuliani provided to the New York Post," George Mesires, attorney for Hunter Biden, said in a statement. Nick Wass / AP file

Covid-19: A new rare complication and a new advocate for masks

A rare Covid-19 complication was reported in children this spring.

Kids were developing dangerous inflammation around the heart and other organs, often weeks after their initial infections with the virus that causes Covid-19.

Now, it's showing up in adults.

"It may be rare, but we don't know. It might be more common than we think," said one expert.

Meantime, Trump has repeated questioned the efficacy of masks in protecting individuals against catching Covid-19 by incorrectly citing a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (He did so again last night during the town hall).

The CDC has tried to set the record straight, tweeting on Wednesday that "the interpretation that more mask-wearers are getting infected compared to non-mask wearers is incorrect."

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Trump ally on Thursday urged Americans to wear masks to fight the coronavirus, which put him in intensive care for seven days.

"No one should be happy to get the virus and no one should be cavalier about being infected or infecting others," Christie said in a statement. "It is something to take very seriously. The ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly."

He added that "as a former public official, I believe we have not treated Americans as adults, who understand truth, sacrifice and responsibility."

Image: Chris CHristie, President Trump Announces His Supreme Court Nominee To Replace Justice Ginsburg
Change of heart: After his stint in the ICU for coronavirus, Christie is urging people to "follow CDC guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others."Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

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THINK about it

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are flouting Covid-19 rules. It's not anti-Semitic to call them out, editor emeritus of the Jewish Daily Forward JJ Goldberg writes in an opinion piece.


Time to get that delicious smell of fall into your kitchen:7 easy apple crisp recipes to make this fall and forever.

Quote of the day

"I don't get that. You're the President. You're not like someone's crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever."

— NBC News' Savannah Guthrie reacting to President Trump's defense of retweeting to his 87 million followers a conspiracy theory about Biden and former President Barack Obama related to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

One fun thing

Phew, Maki, the 21-year-old ring-tailed lemur stolen from the San Francisco Zoo earlier this week, is safe and sound.

The animal was spotted by a woman in Daly City, south of San Francisco, in a church playground around 5 p.m. on Thursday. It was captured and returned to the zoo, San Francisco police said in a statement.

The lemur, one of the oldest at the zoo, was discovered missing Wednesday morning after a report of a burglary, police said.

No arrests have been made in the case, which is an "open and active" investigation, San Francisco police said.

Image: Maki, the Lemur
"We are grateful Maki is home safely!" Daly City Police tweeted.San Francisco Zoo

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Thanks, Petra