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Highlights from the final Trump-Biden presidential debate

Get the latest election news, voting results and polls.

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off in their final presidential debate on Thursday night.

The 90-minute debate, moderated by NBC's Kristen Welker, took place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, covered a wide range of topics, including Covid-19, race, immigration and climate change.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from October 23, 2020.

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Read highlights, fact checks and takeaway below:

Biden tests negative for Covid-19 ahead of debate

Joe Biden was tested for the coronavirus ahead of tonight's debate and his results came back negative.

“Vice President Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” the Biden campaign said in a statement passed along by the pool. 

BIDEN'S 13 NEGATIVE TESTS SINCE Oct. 2:

Friday Oct. 2 – negative x2

Sunday Oct. 4 – negative 

Tuesday Oct. 6 – negative 

Thursday Oct. 8 – negative 

Saturday Oct. 10 – negative  

Monday Oct. 12 – negative 

Wednesday Oct. 14  negative

Thursday Oct. 15 - negative 

Friday Oct. 16 – negative

Monday Oct. 19 – negative

Tuesday Oct. 20 – negative

Thursday Oct. 22 - negative 

Trump administration's child separations a voter issue

After taking a back seat to the coronavirus pandemic, the reminder that the Trump administration intentionally separated babies and children from their parents to deter Central American migration is back in the news, two weeks before the presidential election.

This week, American Civil Liberties Union lawyers told a federal judge they have yet to locate the parents of 545 children and that the overwhelming majority of the children’s parents were deported.

The revelation — while many people are voting early — inserts an issue into the election cycle that was such a lightning rod in the 2018 midterms, Republicans tried distancing themselves from the administration’s separation strategy.

As the administration’s systemic separating of families returns to the forefront of the American consciousness, Trump will have to contend with the re-emergence of images of horrified parents pleading to know the whereabouts of their children, the sounds of crying children as they are mocked by an agent, children caged in pens of chain-link fencing and stories of young children who died while in custody.

Click here to read the full story. 

Analysis: Trump and Biden look to seal the deal in final debate

It's the last chance — for President Donald Trump, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and undecided voters.

Thursday night's second presidential debate, held before a limited in-person audience at Belmont University here and tens of millions of Americans watching from their homes, matches up two candidates still looking to seal the deal with a small fraction of the electorate.

The race remains close enough that everything matters. Biden holds narrow leads — within the margin of error or just outside it — in nearly every swing-state poll, and FiveThirtyEight.com gives him an 87 percent chance, or about 7 in 8, of winning. And yet both Republicans and Democrats say they are feeling déja vu from the 2016 campaign, when Hillary Clinton's polling leads in key swing states evaporated on Election Day.

It's impossible to know how the debate will affect the race, if at all, before the two candidates square off. But one thing that's worth watching is whether either breaks out new promises or behaves in a markedly different way from past public appearances.

What is likely is that the debate will help a limited set of voters decide whether they're done with Trump and comfortable with Biden or whether they will look past Trump's flaws because they think Biden isn't right for the job.

Read more of Jonathan Allen’s analysis here.

Trump has prepped for tonight's debate even less than last one

President Trump has done even less traditional debate prep for the second and final contest tonight in Nashville than he did for the first face-off, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions. 

Trump has been counseled by aides and allies to not interrupt as much, though it’s unclear how much he will follow that advice. The president indicated he is not pleased with the new microphone-muting adjustment and says he will plan to speak up when he feels it’s appropriate. 

The president has also been told by advisers to let former Vice President Joe Biden speak more than he did on the stage in Cleveland, in their view, to allow the Democratic nominee to potentially stumble or make a mistake.

Expect Trump to raise Hunter Biden and China throughout the debate. The president has suggested as much in recent days. 

The team that helped prepare the president last time did not reassemble this time around, partially because several of them were still recovering from coronavirus. As a reminder, the following people got sick around the time the president and first lady did: senior aide Hope Hicks, senior aide Stephen Miller, outside adviser Kellyanne Conway, former Gov. Chris Christie and campaign manager Bill Stepien. 

A few back-and-forth practice meetings took place on Air Force One over the last week while the president was traveling to battleground states. Those sparring rounds were more topic-oriented discussions with aides, however, and did not resemble formal sessions. 

Trump, for his part, told reporters he considers his exchanges with them “prep,” in addition to the 13 rallies he’s done since his return to the trial last week after his hospitalization for Covid-19.

Biden calls for 'bipartisan commission' to propose ways to 'reform the court system'

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden told “60 Minutes” he would set up a "bipartisan commission of scholars" from across the ideological spectrum to explore ways to change the Supreme Court.

“And I will — ask them to over 180 days come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack,” Biden said, according to excerpts released Thursday ahead of an interview to air Sunday.

“And it’s not about court packing,” Biden said. “There’s a number of other things that our constitutional scholars have debated and I’ve looked to see what recommendations that commission might make.”

The answer comes as Biden faces pressure to take a position on the push to add seats to the Supreme Court in response to what Democrats describe as a theft by Republicans for enabling President Trump to fill a vacancy in an election year after preventing Barack Obama from doing so in 2016.

Read more here.

Plexiglass will stay on debate stage between Trump and Biden's lecterns

The Commission on Presidential Debates' co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., says the two plexiglass barriers placed between each candidates’ lecterns on stage at Belmont University in Nashville will remain in place “at the recommendation of the commission’s medical advisors.”

“I’m not sure that the Trump campaign wanted it," he said on MSNBC.

A worker cleans newly installed plexiglass shields on the debate stage on Oct. 21, 2020 ahead of the presidential debate in Nashville, Tenn.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

 

Fahrenkopf also noted: 

—Anyone who enters this hall has to pass a covid test (meaning test negative) and must be wearing a mask.

—Both campaigns and their invited guests have agreed to keep their masks in while in audience.

—CPD is working with each campaign to confirm their tests. 

Fahrenkopf would not answer if people need to show or prove their negative test results to CPD or the debate's medical advisors

Trump's debate topics tonight: China and Hunter Biden

Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications and assistant to the president, said  expect President Trump to discuss two topics at tonight's debate: China and Hunter Biden

"We need to have a real discussion on China," Farah said Thursday on Fox Business News.

"Traditionally the third debate is really a foreign policy debate. But this one’s got a whole lot of different topics," she said. "So the president’s going to go in ready to make his case on the issues he sees as most important —the economy, holding China accountable, the economic recovery."

"And I do think we are going to, whether it's asked or he has the opportunity to bring it up, he is going to get into this issue of Hunter Biden," she said. "The American people need to know if the Biden family in any way is beholden to China."

Cybersecurity company finds hacker selling info on 186 million U.S. voters

WASHINGTON — A cybersecurity company says it has found a hacker selling personally identifying information of more than 200 million Americans, including the voter registration data of 186 million.

The revelation underscored how vulnerable Americans are to email targeting by criminals and foreign adversaries, even as U.S. officials announced that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data and email addresses with an eye toward interfering in the 2020 election.

Much of the data identified by Trustwave, a global cybersecurity company, is publicly available, and almost all of it is the kind that is regularly bought and sold by legitimate businesses. But the fact that so many names, email addresses, phone numbers and voter registration records were found for sale in bulk on the so-called dark web underscores how easily criminals and foreign adversaries can deploy it as the FBI said Iran has done recently, by sending emails designed to intimidate voters.

"An enormous amount of data about U.S. citizens is available to cyber criminals" and foreign adversaries, said Ziv Mador, vice president of security research at Trustwave, which found the material.

Read more here.

Google saw evidence of fake email operation linked to Iran

Google said in a statement Thursday that the tech company and others have seen evidence that an operation linked to Iran “sent inauthentic emails to people in the U.S. over the past 24 hours.”

“For Gmail users, our automated spam filters stopped 90% of the approximately 25,000 emails sent. Additionally, this morning we removed one video file on Drive and one video on YouTube with fewer than 30 views, and terminated the associated Google accounts,” Google PR said. 

“We referred the matter to the FBI and will continue to work with law enforcement and others in the industry to identify and remove any related content.”

The FBI announced at a briefing Wednesday evening that Iranian intelligence was responsible for a recent campaign of emails sent to intimidate Florida voters. Officials also said that Russia was also working to influence the election.

'Exciting moment': Obama votes by mail, runs down instructions

Trump says he plans to release an 'unedited preview' of that '60 Minutes' interview

Trump on Thursday said he would soon be releasing an "unedited preview" of the interview he abruptly left earlier this week with CBS News' Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes."

"I will soon be giving a first in television history full, unedited preview of the vicious attempted 'takeout' interview of me by Lesley Stahl of @60Minutes. Watch her constant interruptions & anger. Compare my full, flowing and 'magnificently brilliant' answers to their 'Q’s," he tweeted. 

The White House agreed to record the interview for archival purposes only. His threat came after the show released a clip Thursday morning in which Stahl asked Trump to identify his biggest domestic priority.

"Well, ultimately, let me tell you, it was happening, we created the greatest economy in the history of our country. And the other side ... ," Trump said. 

"You know that's not true," Stahl said.

"It is totally true," Trump responded.

"No," Stahl said. 

"The priority now is to get back to normal, get back to where we were, to have the economy rage and be great with jobs and everybody be happy," Trump said.

The newsmagazine also released a clip of its interview with Joe Biden, during which he said he would create a national, bipartisan commission of constitutional scholars to review the nation's court system and put together recommendations for reforms.