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Biden Fails to Nail Trump in Debate on Bipartisan Border Deal

Joe Biden missed a major opportunity while debating Donald Trump.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden stand at podiums
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Joe Biden had a chance to score easy points on immigration policy in his debate against Donald Trump Thursday, but he repeatedly dropped the ball.

Multiple times over the course of the 90-minute debate, Trump swerved his answers into complaints about Biden’s border policy. The former president repeatedly lamented his baseless claim that millions of people are coming into the country from the world’s “prisons, jails and mental institutions.” He lied a lot, and got away with it, because Biden failed to call him out on one important point.

Biden repeatedly neglected to mention Trump’s essential role in killing a bipartisan border security deal earlier this year, which would’ve granted $20 billion in emergency spending at the southern border, in the most restrictive border legislation pushed by a Democratic president in recent memory.

Trump urged Republican lawmakers to oppose Biden’s border security bill, and so they killed it. His allies in Congress made it clear they would rather help Trump fearmonger about immigration than actually do something about it.

Biden has since issued an executive order that will shut down the southern U.S. border if the average number of border encounters exceeds 2,500, which it already has, and only resume them once the number drops to below 1,500.

The new rule, implemented earlier this month, changed Title 8 immigration procedures, making those who illegally crossed the border no longer eligible for asylum (except in the event of “exceptionally compelling” circumstances) and further tightening the eligibility guidelines for deportees who fear returning to their home countries. The new rule inspired intense backlash from Democrats, and a lawsuit from the ACLU.

This wasn’t the only missed opportunity. Throughout the night, Biden uniformly neglected to fact-check Trump on his many more fantastical answers.

MAGA Suddenly Praises Biden-Trump Debate Format They Flipped Out About

The far-right is gloating about Donald Trump’s performance in this debate, perhaps for good reason.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden on the debate stage
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Trump supporters spent weeks railing that Thursday’s presidential debate between Biden and Trump would be rigged in favor of Biden, fuming about CNN’s moderation restrictions and spinning conspiracies that the debate moderators were biased against Trump. After insisting Trump would lose the debate and raging that CNN’s fact-checker would be fact-checking the debate, Trump supporters quickly changed their tune.

Twitter screenshot Donald Trump Jr. @DonaldJTrumpJr: I actually like this format for my father. Keeping him disciplined and focused. He’s dismantling Biden’s disastrous and failed policies one by one piece by piece. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
Twitter screenshot Ronny Jackson @RonnyJacksonTX: Very SAD at this point. This has crossed the line and is just elder abuse at this point. PLEASE stop this and let Joe go to bed!!
Twitter screenshot The Nasty Italian🍷🇺🇸 🇮🇹@sayitnspinit: I'm actually shocked that Tapper and IBash is letting Trump speak

Trump supporters and Trump himself spent the lead-up to the debate claiming that Biden would be buzzing out of his skin doped up on drugs, and instead found themselves—like most viewers—stunned at Biden’s mellowness, which the Biden team claims is due to a cold.

Twitter screenshot Vivek Ramaswamy @VivekGRamaswamy: They didn’t drug up Biden. They lobotomized him instead.

Every Lie Trump Said About January 6 in Biden Debate

Donald Trump thinks he did nothing wrong on January 6. You can take that as a threat.

Donald Trump (profile shot)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Donald Trump was asked during Thursday’s presidential debate about concerns from voters about the January 6 riot and that he may lead his supporters to do the same again. In response, Trump promptly began spewing falsehoods surrounding the insurrection.

“What do you say to those voters who believe that you violated your constitutional oath through your actions and inaction on January 6, 2021, and worry that you’ll do it again?” moderator Jake Tapper asked. Trump initially denied that voters have that concern, then delved into a spree of falsehoods.

Trump responded somewhat quizzically, saying, “Well, I didn’t say that to anybody. I said peacefully and patriotically,” apparently in reference to his directive to his supporters to go to the Capitol.

Here’s what he actually told the crowd before the riot:

We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.

And hours later, he posted on X (formerly Twitter):

I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. But you have to go home now, we have to have peace. We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order.

Trump then stated then–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed responsibility for the riot. “I offered her 10,000 soldiers or National Guard and she turned them down and the mayor, I have it in writing, by the way, the mayor in writing, turned it down. The mayor of D.C. They turned it down. I offered 10 times because I could see. I had virtually nothing to do.”

Recently released video during the Capitol riot shows Pelosi asking why the National Guard wasn’t present as she was evacuated from the Capitol, and later shows Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also demanding answers about why the National Guard isn’t mobilized.

“We need them fast. We’ve all had to—I’ve never seen anything like this. We’re like a third-world country here. We had to run and evacuate the Capitol,” Schumer snapped.

Trump has long falsely claimed that he signed an order for 10,000 National Guard troops to mobilize to Washington prior to the insurrection. Trump and fellow conservatives have also falsely claimed that Pelosi was responsible for preventing their deployment.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser failed to mobilize a sizable National Guard presence based on “intelligence failures” that believed the far-right extremists would be “friendly” to police, but she did in fact call for a limited National Guard mobilization ahead of the January 6 riot.

Trump Confesses He Spoke to Putin About “Dream” to Invade Ukraine

Donald Trump used the debate with Biden to make it clear what he thinks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Donald Trump speaks and points at the debate
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Donald Trump claimed during Thursday night’s debate with President Joe Biden that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin wouldn’t have happened on his watch.

Trump claimed that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was so chaotic that it encouraged Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

“When Putin saw that, he said, ‘You know what? I think we’re gonna go in and maybe take my …’ This was his dream. I talked to him about it. His dream,” Trump said. Did Putin actually speak to Trump about attacking Ukraine, or is this Trump being braggadocious? But Trump has made no secret of his close, sometimes subservient relationship with Putin.

Trump also blamed Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel on Biden, claiming that Iran was broke during the Trump presidency and couldn’t fund Hamas.

Watch Trump’s bizarre recollection here:

Trump Brings Back Stunning Racism in Debate With New Biden Insult

Donald Trump slammed Joe Biden as weak, “like a Palestinian.”

Donald Trump gestures as he speaks
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump suggested President Joe Biden has “become like a Palestinian,” during Thursday night’s presidential debate.

“But he’s like a weak one, they wouldn’t like him,” Trump sneered.

This isn’t the first time the former president has made this particularly racist remark: Earlier this month, Trump said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had become “like a Palestinian” after the staunchly pro-Israel Democrat supported a cease-fire.

Trump Loses It in Biden Debate Over His Own “Suckers and Losers” Quote

Donald Trump insisted Biden had made up the now-infamous phrase.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden stand at podiums
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Donald Trump just took offense during Thursday night’s debate at the revival of his infamous quote where he allegedly described American World War I veterans as “suckers and losers.”

Trump said, “It was a made-up quote by a third-rate, failing magazine,” referring to The Atlantic, after Biden confronted him with it. But the truth is that the quote is corroborated by multiple sources, including John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff and a retired general himself.

Trump demanded that Biden apologize for bringing up the quote, and Biden refused, saying that it was corroborated by a four-star general on his staff, referring to Kelly.

In 2018, Trump refused to visit the graves of American soldiers buried near Paris because the cemetery is “filled with losers,” and he also said that 1,800 U.S. Marines who died in the Belleau Wood were “suckers” for getting killed. Kelly later confirmed the story in an October 2023 interview with CNN, and Biden put out a pro-veteran ad highlighting Trump’s comments earlier this month.

Watch the exchange here:

Trump Proudly Brags About Rollback of Abortion Rights in Biden Debate

Clip and save this for the next time Donald Trump pretends he doesn’t want to restrict abortion.

Donald Trump yells at the debate with Biden
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Donald Trump proudly took responsibility for the overturning of Roe v. Wade during the first presidential debate on Thursday, rewriting history as though he had accommodated the majority of Americans in choosing to do so.

“What I did is I put three great Supreme Court justices on the court, and they happened to vote in favor of killing Roe v. Wade and moving it back to the states,” Trump said after claiming he would not block the Supreme Court decision that salvaged access to the abortion pill. “This is something that everybody wanted.”

“Now 10 years ago or so they started talking about how many weeks and how many this—getting into other things, but every legal scholar, throughout the world, the most respected, wanted it brought back to the states,” Trump continued. “I did that.”

Then he went through a list of states that chose to ban abortions: Ohio—which Trump described as “a little more liberal than you would have thought”—Kansas, Texas, and Florida.

“Like Ronald Reagan, I believe in the exceptions,” Trump said. “I’m a person that believes. And frankly I think it’s important to believe in the exceptions, some people, you have to follow your heart, some people don’t believe in that, but I believe in exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. I think it’s very important. Some people don’t. Follow your heart. But you gotta get elected.”

However, the vast majority of Americans—some 63 percent—believe that abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances, per a March study by the Pew Research Center.

Trump Keeps Spreading Notorious Abortion Lie in Biden Debate

Donald Trump repeatedly said that Democrats support “abortion after birth.”

Donald Trump gestures while speaking into a microphone
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump repeatedly insisted during Thursday night’s presidential debate that Democrats have advocated for abortion legislation that will allow doctors to kill newborn babies.

“He can take the life of the baby in the ninth month, and even after birth, because some states—Democrat-run—take it after birth,” the former president said. “Again, the governor, former governor of Virginia, ‘put the baby down, then we decide what to do with it,’ so he’s, he’s willing to, as we say, rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month and kill the baby. Nobody wants that to happen, Democrat or Republican. Nobody wants it to happen.”

“That is simply not true,” Biden responded.

Biden was right, both as a policy, and as a point of definition, a fetus cannot be aborted after it has been born. That’s not abortion, it’s plainly infanticide. A policy of infanticide was not the standard of care under Roe v. Wade.

Trump’s right about one thing, nobody wants that to happen, including President Joe Biden, who promised to restore Roe v. Wade if elected.

Biden Kicks Off Trump Debate by Leaning Into GOP’s Stupid Conspiracy

Relax, Jack. It’s just a joke!

Joe Biden smiles and waves
Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

On Thursday night, half an hour before the first 2024 presidential debate between Biden and Trump, Biden posted on X (formerly Twitter) an image of himself holding a canned drink called “Dark Brandon’s Secret Sauce” with the caption, “I don’t know what they’ve got in these performance enhancers, but I’m feeling pretty jacked up.”

@JoeBiden I don't know what they've got in these performance enhancers, but I'm feeling pretty jacked up. Try it yourselves, folks. See you in a bit:

The canned drink, which is available for sale for $4.60 each, lists its ingredients as “MAGA tears, mysterious orange liquid, melted chocolate chip ice cream.” The stunt appears to be winking at a conspiracy that’s been circulated by Team Trump ever since the debate was scheduled, claiming Biden’s predestined debate success would be the result of him getting pumped up with drugs.

Jim Jordan Throws Trump Lifeline by Reviving 2020 Debate Conspiracy

Republicans are trying everything to help Donald Trump ahead of his debate with Biden, now including one of their oldest CIA conspiracy theories.

Representative Jim Jordan speaks and makes a hand gesture in a congressional hearing
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hours before the first Biden-Trump presidential debate on Thursday, House Republicans tried reviving an old 2020 debate conspiracy theory in hopes of helping out Donald Trump.

The theory, elevated by House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, is based on a statement published in October 2020, signed by 51 former intelligence community leaders casting concern over the release of emails purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden. Republicans claimed the statement was a “coordinated hit against President Trump.”

The House Judiciary GOP also claimed the “51 former intel officials coordinated with the Biden campaign to publish a statement to discredit @NYPost reporting about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the Biden family’s influence peddling.” That alleged “influence peddling” stems from yet another conservative conspiracy concocted by an FBI informant with ties to Russian intelligence who was charged with lying to Congress for claiming Hunter and Joe Biden were paid $5 million apiece to place Hunter Biden on the board of a Ukrainian energy company to protect the company from investigation.

The letter at the base of the conspiracy theory was published on October 19, 2020—and it didn’t confirm or deny the authenticity of the Hunter Biden emails. It only noted that the distribution of them appeared “deeply suspicious” and contained “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” To that end, the letter stated:

We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement—just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case. If we are right, this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.

But since its release, Republicans have insisted the letter was crafted by the CIA at the behest of Biden—pointing to the fact that he brought up the statement in one of the 2020 presidential debates against Trump. (At the time, most experts agreed that Trump lost both presidential debates handily.)

In reality, the statement was written by officials acting in their individual capacity (which is why they all signed it under their names!). Yet some of those who signed had active contracts with the CIA, a point of disdain in the intelligence community as it poses a conflict of interest and throws the CIA into the political muck. That’s really only a boon for conservatives, who have enjoyed years of insisting Trump was cheated out of a second term by the CIA and FBI.

Republicans have tried to add a new twist to the old conspiracy theory by pointing to a recounting from former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who in April 2023 testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Morrell detailed receiving a call from Anthony Blinken, who at the time was an adviser on Biden’s campaign, about the New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s emails.

“[Blinken] asked me if I thought that the Russians may have been involved in any way in the emergence of these emails,” Morell said in his testimony, noting that he hadn’t seen the New York Post story prior to Blinken’s call about it. Asked what the intent of the letter was, Morell responded, “One intent was to share our concern with the American people that the Russians were playing on this issue. And, two, it was to help Vice President Biden.” Asked why he wanted to help Biden, Morell responded, “Because I wanted him to win the election.”

Conservatives have incessantly confused the Hunter Biden situation, claiming—as with the Fox News segment cited in the video published by the House Judiciary GOP account—that the concern expressed by the 51 signatories about Russian interference in the distribution of Biden’s emails was not about the distribution. Instead, conservatives argue, the intelligence community, Biden campaign, and Democrats all colluded to claim Hunter Biden’s laptop was fake in its entirety. That’s simply not what the letter says.

As Raw Story’s Daniel Hampton notes, the timing of the released testimony is suspicious, seemingly intended to give Trump a reheated talking point to throw at Biden during Thursday’s debate. It also appears to be its own attempt at election meddling, a way for Republicans to get back at the “spies who lied” for releasing their letter that was issued three days before the last presidential debate of 2020. In any case, meddling sure is a funny way to condemn meddling. Join The New Republic’s live debate watch party at 9 p.m. E.T. here to see if it comes up.