Election updates: GOP chides Trump over white supremacy remarks, debate commission considering changes after Tuesday goes off the rails

Sean Rossman, USA TODAY
·7 mins read

The first presidential debate between Joe Biden and President Donald Trump quickly spun into a storm of personal attacks Tuesday night, at times devolving into a shouting match that made it hard for moderator Chris Wallace to be heard.

It was so acrimonious the organization that oversees the presidential debates says it will be adding "additional tools" to prevent a repeat of Tuesday's night's raucous confrontation between

Biden called Trump a "fool," "Putin's puppy" and "the worst president" in American history. In one of the times Trump interrupted him, Biden snapped, "Will you shut up, man?"

Trump needled his opponent from the outset, calling him a "socialist," taking shots at his family and repeatedly interrupting and speaking over him.

Trump was given an opportunity to condemn white supremacists, but he didn't take it, a response that drew blowback from some in his own party Wednesday. Biden also knocked Trump on his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he needed to get "a lot smarter" on the issue.

Despite the raucous debate, which CNN's Jake Tapper described as "a hot mess inside a dumpster fire," both sides quickly claimed victory.

The latest:

📆 34 days until Election Day, seven days until the vice presidential debate, 112 days until Inauguration Day, 93 days left in 2020.

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Senate to vote on a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown

The Senate prepared Wednesday evening to vote on a spending measure to keep federal agencies running hours before the government is set to shut down.

The legislation, which is likely to pass in a largely bipartisan vote, would go to President Donald Trump, who is likely to give final approval to the bill. The federal annual spending bill expires at midnight, meaning Congress has to act Wednesday to keep the government open.

- Christal Hayes

Debate commission considering format changes after brutal first debate

The organization that oversees the presidential debates says it will be adding "additional tools" to prevent a repeat of Tuesday's night's raucous confrontation between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden.

"Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday.

The commision said it was "carefully considering" changes and would announce them shortly.

The second of three debates between Trump and Biden is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.

- Ledyard King and Phillip Bailey

Debate changes: Trump-Biden brawl in Cleveland prompts debate commission to consider format changes for future encounters

Republicans in Congress say Trump should have directly condemned white supremacists

Republicans in Congress said President Donald Trump should have directly denounced white supremacists at the first presidential debate Tuesday, when the president sidestepped a question on the issue during a chaotic and bruising two hours.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, often a Trump critic, said Trump should have condemned white supremacists.

"I think he misspoke, I think he should correct it. If he doesn't correct it, I guess he didn't misspeak," said Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only Black Republican in the Senate.

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said Trump “should have been very clear, and he should have made it very clear that there's no room for people on the far left or the far more far-right. When it comes to either an antifa or these white supremacist groups should have been very clear.”

When pressed to condemn white supremacists, Trump asked for the name of a specific group. Democrat Joe Biden responded by naming the Proud Boys.

"Proud Boys – stand back and stand by," Trump said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."

- Nicholas Wu

Debate: Republicans in Congress say Trump should have directly condemned white supremacists at presidential debate

Trump sidesteps call to condemn white supremacists

President Donald Trump was given an opportunity to condemn white supremacists during Tuesday's debate. He didn't take it, and his response has energized the Proud Boys, a known extremist group, one expert said.

Moderator Chris Wallace's question came as Trump and Biden discussed the violence and social upheaval that has swept the streets of cities like Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, following a summer of protests.

When pressed to condemn white supremacists, Trump asked for the name of a specific group. Biden responded by naming the Proud Boys.

"Proud Boys – stand back and stand by," Trump said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."

Debate: Donald Trump sidesteps call to condemn white supremacists — and the Proud Boys were 'extremely excited' about it

Megan Squire, a professor of computer science at Elon University in North Carolina who studies online extremism, told USA TODAY that she immediately went to the group's social media channels.

“They reacted exactly as I thought they would," Squire said. "They were extremely excited by what he said. They felt validated. They took it the same way everybody listening took it — that he was giving them a shout-out, basically.”

- Courtney Subramanian

Comey returns to the Hill

Former FBI Director James Comey, whose 2017 dismissal by President Donald Trump unleashed a broader investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia led by special counsel Robert Mueller, on Wednesday defended the inquiry that he initially helped launched as "essential."

"Overall, I'm proud of the work," Comey told a Republican-led Senate panel investigating the government's early handling of the Russia investigation that shadowed much of Trump's presidency.

Comey also said he would not have approved the Carter Page warrant had he been aware of the errors uncovered by the inspector general.

- Kevin Johnson

Hillary Clinton admits she wanted to tell Trump to 'shut up'

After a presidential debate rife with outbursts and attacks, Hillary Clinton confirmed she wished she could have told President Donald Trump to "shut up" when the pair debated in 2016.

The former nominee's confession came after feminist writer Jill Filipovic tweeted that former Vice President Joe Biden's off-the-cuff remark of "Will you shut up, man?" was "the line of the night."

Filipovic later added, "I so feel for Hillary right now, because I'm positive she wanted to say that and couldn't."

"You have no idea," Clinton replied.

- Camille Caldera

House commits to 'peaceful transfer of power' in resolution

By a lopsided 397-5 vote, the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a nonbinding resolution affirming the House's commitment to an "orderly and peaceful transfer of power" after the election.

Although the resolution did not mention President Donald Trump by name, it was introduced after he declined lat week to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the election in November, provoking a backlash from both sides of the aisle.

"You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster," Trump told reporters. "Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very a peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who had introduced the measure, called Trump's remarks "beyond unsettling" and the "sentiment of dictators and despots."

The Senate passed a similar nonbinding measure last week without any objections from lawmakers.

- Nicholas Wu

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2020 election updates: GOP chides Trump on white supremacy