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The BBC host confronted Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump 2020 Campaign, on the US President’s knowledge of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in February, ahead of the election debate between him and Democrat candidate Joe Biden. Ms Maitlis said: “Donald Trump will presumably face questions about his failure to stop so many Americans dying of COVID when he admitted he knew back in February that the disease was deadly. How can he defend that?”
But pointing out Ms Maitlis’s “biased” line of questioning, Ms Ellis sarcastically replied: “I appreciate your very unbiased questionnaire but the reality is the President has taken the coronavirus very seriously and was the first to stop flights from overseas which Joe Biden himself and other Democrats called racist and xenophobic.
“He also managed a task force that has mitigated the effects of the virus that we know came from China.”
As the BBC insisted the President said he knew about the deadly effects of coronavirus in February in a interview with Bob Woodward, Ms Ellis blasted: “That’s not what he said during the Bob Woodward interview.
“He clearly articulated he did not want to alarm the American people unnecessarily and he also has of course taken the coronavirus very seriously.
“And if you actually look at where the deaths occurred in the United States a majority of those were in New York where the Democrat led Governor there unfortunately did not handle his own state very well.
“But President Trump and Vice President Pence have continued to give all of their resources and recommendations to all the American people.”
President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden battled fiercely over Trump’s record on the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare and the economy in a chaotic and bad-tempered first debate marked by personal insults and Trump’s repeated interruptions.
Trump bulldozed his way through the 90-minute debate, trying to goad Mr Biden nearly every time he spoke, claiming that Democrats were trying to steal the November presidential election with mail-in ballots and declining to condemn white supremacist groups when asked to do so.
Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News never established control of the debate, with Trump repeatedly ignoring his calls to let Mr Biden speak. The two White House contenders talked over each other and lobbed insults in a breathtaking political brawl that made it hard for either to make a point.
At one point, an exasperated Mr Biden said after Trump’s repeated interruptions: “Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential.”
Mr Wallace tried in vain to reel in Trump, who ignored his time limits and talked over Mr Biden.
“I think that 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,” Mr Wallace said.
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As of Tuesday evening, more than 1.3 million Americans already had cast early ballots. With time running out to change minds or influence the small sliver of undecided voters, the stakes were enormous as the two candidates took the stage five weeks before the Nov. 3 Election Day.
For Trump, 74, Tuesday’s debate represented one of the few remaining chances to change the trajectory of a race that most opinion polls show him losing, as the majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of both the pandemic and protests over racial injustice.
Mr Biden, 77, has held a consistent lead over Trump in national opinion polls, although surveys in the battleground states that will decide the election show a much closer contest. It was hard to determine whether the debate would move the needle.
Trump repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to fluster Mr Biden and force him into a gaffe, but largely neglected to make any affirmative case for why he is the candidate best suited to tackle fundamental election issues.
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