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.
Read highlights, fact checks and takeaway below:
Analysis: Sarcasm isn’t working for Biden
A couple of times, Biden has turned to sarcasm to make a point about Trump. It’s not his strong suit because it’s so deadpan it’s hard to tell he’s being sarcastic. The last one involved the ultimate debate loser: Adolf Hitler.
Biden was trying to make the point that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un didn’t meet with then-President Obama because Kim wouldn’t agree to give up nuclear weapons. Trump said Obama should have met with Kim and that Trump’s meetings were important.
Biden’s response: "We had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded the rest of Europe. C’mon man."
The point was Hitler was always bad and so is Kim. But it sounded like he was saying it made sense for the U.S. to have ties to Hitler before World War II. And, for the record, President Franklin Roosevelt pressed Hitler, through letters, to refrain from invading other countries.
First mic cut of the night goes to Trump
Trump’s discursive response about protecting health care and preexisting conditions while also dismantling the Affordable Care Act resulted in the first mic cut of the night.
His mic was muted just as he was trying to finish his response. It was an effective way to keep the moderator in control and get a response from Biden.
Mention of 'witch hunt' draws Biden eye roll
As the words “witch hunt” rolled off Donald Trump’s tongue, Joe Biden gave up any veneer of tolerance. He looked up to the ceiling, rolling his eyes upward, while taking in a deep breath. He wasn’t saying anything, but the body language spoke to exasperation.
Trump praises Welker, whom he has attacked for days
Fact check: Trump claims Biden got $3.5 million from Russia. No evidence for this.
Trump, as part of a lengthy string of unverified allegations about Biden and his family's financial interests, claimed that Biden received millions "through Russia."
"Joe got $3.5 million through Russia, and it came through Putin because he was very friendly with the former mayor of Moscow," the president said.
“You made $3.5 million, Joe!” he said.
The president’s claims appear to be rooted in far-right conspiracy theories that the business dealings of the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, were somehow funneling foreign dollars to the vice president and the rest of his family. There’s no evidence of wrongdoing on either Biden's part, and Biden strenuously denied any foreign revenue streams from the debate stage.
Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security Committee released a report resurfacing allegations that Hunter Biden had foreign business deals that posed “potential conflicts of interests” with Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings considering his father was the sitting vice president.
Largely focusing on those optics, the report doesn’t say that Hunter Biden’s work changed U.S. policy. Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates slammed the report as an “attack founded on a long-disproven hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory” that Johnson “has now explicitly stated he is attempting to exploit to bail out Donald Trump's re-election campaign."
One of the main claims about Hunter Biden raised in the GOP report is that he received $3.5 million from a Russian businesswoman.
The GOP report says the Russian wired $3.5 million to a firm associated with Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, told Politico that it was “false” to say the younger Biden received that money because he has no “interest in” the firm.
'C’mon!' Biden leans into his catchphrases
Biden-isms were on full display as the former vice president expressed disbelief at Trump’s claims during the debate.
He called Trump’s claims on Biden’s alleged foreign entanglements “malarkey,” what Biden would say is something he picked up in a working-class Irish Catholic family.
Also, he has said “c’mon!” every time Trump dredges up a baseless attack on him.
It's important to note that the interrupting has returned, but not as much as in the first debate. Trump has been demanding more response time and interrupting the moderator.
Graphic: The top topics in the debate at the halfway mark
In tonight’s debate, Covid-19 has dominated the discussion.
Get the latest breakdown of time spent on topics with the NBC News presidential debate tracker.
Trump's answers on his finances take twists and turns
Pushed to answer questions about his personal finances, Trump's answers took viewers on a winding road.
On his taxes, Trump says his accountants won't let him release them, then says former special counsel Robert Mueller went through his taxes (which the redacted version of Mueller's report does not mention), and also claims he pre-paid his taxes (that could mean he took deductions on his losses).
Then on his bank account in China, Trump says he had an account, then closed it and then ran for president. One of the lawyers for the Trump Organization told The New York Times the account remains open but unused.
Almost halfway into the debate, not too many interruptions but plenty of attacks
Chaotic it’s not. A toned-down President Donald Trump and an on-the-attack Joe Biden spent the first 35 minutes of the debate talking about the issues while lobbing attacks on each other.
Interruptions, a mainstay of the previous debates, have been infrequent at best.
Get the latest numbers on attacks and interruptions with the NBC News presidential debate tracker.
Biden responds to attacks about son’s business dealings
Biden responded to attacks involving his son Hunter Biden and his business dealings, emphatically saying he has never taken any cash from a foreign government, that his son was not paid by China, and the neither of them did anything wrong with regard to Ukraine.
Biden hits Trump on China
Trump has spent much of his campaign trying to attack the former vice president as “Beijing Biden.”
But that smear has not seemed to stick, especially after The New York Times reported this week on Trump’s business and financial ties to China.
“We learned that this president paid 50 times the tax in China, has a secret bank account with China, does business with China, and in fact is talking about me taking money? I have not taken single penny from any country whatsoever,” Biden said.
“The only guy that has made money from China is this one,” Biden added, responding to criticism about his son Hunter.