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First Presidential debate: Full coverage and fact checks

It was the first time the two candidates faced off on the debate stage after months of tweets and attack ads.
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden will meet during the first presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday night.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden faced off on the debate stage Tuesday for the first time.

The 90-minute debate quickly descended into chaos after Trump began to interrupt both Biden and the moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace. The night didn't get much calmer from there.

Read highlights from Tuesday's debate below:

Fact-check: Biden says 'Green New Deal is not my plan.' His plan borrows heavily from it.

Biden tried to put distance between the Green New Deal — an ambitious and comprehensive environmental justice policy plan supported by progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. — and his own plans to combat climate change and environmental racism and to push clean energy sources and environmental justice.

"That is not my plan. The Green New Deal is not my plan," Biden said.

While Biden doesn't explicitly support the Green New Deal, his own plans borrow very heavily from it — making his aggressive denials ring false.

Over the summer, Biden released a $2 trillion plan that emphasized building new energy-efficient infrastructure projects and cutting fossil fuel emissions. 

Under his plan, Biden would, if elected, increase clean energy use in various areas (including transportation, electricity and buildings) and have the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. The plan would also create 10 million clean energy jobs, according to his campaign website, with a focus on renewable energy, small nuclear reactors and grid energy storage, among other initiatives.

Biden's plans adopt many of the same pillars of the Green New Deal. One of his campaign documents even says, "Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face." In addition, his release of the plans was celebrated by many of the same groups that had touted the Green New Deal.

Biden's plans would, however, omit some of the Green New Deal's more controversial elements, such as "Medicare for All," a federal jobs guarantee and a strict zero carbon emissions mandate.

Biden reacts to Proud Boys remark: 'This is Donald Trump's America'

Twitter users have some ideas for who could moderate the next debate

The view from Trumpworld tonight

Unsurprisingly, Team Trump is casting the evening as a success for the president and seeking to sow confusion about his "stand back and stand by" comment. It's also enthusiastic about doing more debates and leaning heavily into criticism of those suggesting there shouldn't be any more.

Of the Proud Boys non-denunciation, allies are trying to create confusion: Donald Trump Jr. appeared on CBS and tried to claim that the president said "stand down." When corrected, Trump Jr. claimed that it might have been a "misspeak" and said, "He's talking about having them stand down." Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh also tried to say it was "stand down."

Another campaign aide was pleased that the Trump tax investigation story wasn't prominently featured. Some Trump allies are also playing up how Biden didn't name a law enforcement group that supports him, as well as his court-packing non-answer and his response on the coronavirus and the economy, and they're defending the president's behavior as simply a way of defending himself. And there's plenty of blame-the-ref talk, too, slamming Chris Wallace. 

Still, a campaign adviser noted that no one really knows how this is going to play out with voters yet, acknowledging that it's going to take a day or so to see how it shakes out across America. 

Fact-check: Biden says 1 in 1,000 Black Americans have been killed by coronavirus

Biden claimed earlier in the evening that "1 in 1,000 African Americans" have "been killed because of the coronavirus" and that "if he [Trump] doesn't do something quickly, by the end of the year, 1 in 500 will have been killed." 

There is no question that Black Americans have been more severely affected by Covid-19 than whites — even the administration's public health agency agrees that Black Americans are disproportionately affected. A number of analyses and studies show that people of color in America have been hit harder by the coronavirus and are more likely to know someone who has died from it.

Biden appears to be referring a recent study from APM Research Lab found that the Covid-19 death rate for Blacks is 1 in 1,020 (97.9 deaths per 100,000). The report notes that "if they had died of COVID-19 at the same actual rate as White Americans, about 20,800 Black, 10,900 Latino, 700 Indigenous, and 80 Pacific Islander Americans would still be alive."

But the study doesn't address how the disparity in death rates will change by the end of the year. NBC News has reached out to the Biden campaign for additional information.

Fact-check: Did Trump suggest nuking a hurricane? He called that report 'fake news'

Biden said that the president of the United States said he wanted to "drop a nuclear weapon" on hurricanes. Trump retorted, "I never said that."

Here's what Biden was referring to: On Aug. 25, 2019, Axios reported that Trump had suggested "multiple times" that the U.S. should explore the use of nuclear bombs to combat hurricanes.

According to Axios: "During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, 'I got it. I got it. Why don't we nuke them?' according to one source who was there. 'They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they're moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can't we do that?' the source added, paraphrasing the president's remarks."

A senior administration official did not deny the exchange, telling the publication: "His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad. ... His objective is not bad."

But Trump wrote in a tweet at the time that the report was "just more fake news."

Here’s how the two men who helped Trump prepare for the debate felt about his performance

Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, the two men Trump said helped him prepare for this debate, were asked how they thought the president performed.

"The problems the president had tonight can potentially be fixed," Christie said on ABC News.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, Giuliani wrote: "If the crooked press is at all fair, Trump dominated this debate," adding that Trump showed that he was "vigorous" and "tough."

Harris denounces Trump's debate performance, says he 'debased' the presidency

Kamala Harris criticized Trump for his debate performance, focusing on the combative tone he struck throughout the 90-minute event.

"America was presented with a very clear choice," Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, said in an interview with MSNBC, characterizing Trump's behavior as "angry" and "defensive." 

Harris said Trump has "debased the office of the president of the United States."

"And that is our office. It's not his office," she added.

Harris will debate Vice President Mike Pence next week in Utah.

Fact-check: Did Kellyanne Conway say violence and chaos 'help [Trump's] cause?'

Trump disputed a broadside from Biden that Kellyanne Conway, Trump's former campaign manager and a top White House aide, said riots and chaos "help [Trump's] cause." But Conway did make comments along those lines in late August.

"His own former spokesperson said, you know, riots, chaos and violence help us and violence help his cause. That's what this is all about," Biden said.

After Trump questioned whom Biden was quoting, he responded, "Kellyanne Conway."

Trump replied: "I don't think she said that."

Here's the exact quote, via video of Conway's appearance on "Fox and Friends" on Aug. 27: "The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who's best on public safety and law and order."

Conway announced Aug. 23 that she would be leaving the White House at the end of the month.