Politics

Trump and Biden may have muted the microphones for a part of the final presidential debate

President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden will temporarily cut their microphones during their next debate, the event sponsors said on Monday.

If either candidate is given the opportunity to give a two-minute reply to any of the six topics under discussion, his opponent's microphone will be muted, the Presidential Debate Commission said in a statement.

"It is the Commission's hope that candidates will respect each other's time, which will fuel civil discourse for the benefit of the audience," the statement said.

The final Trump-Biden debate is scheduled for 9 p.m. on Thursday. ET in Nashville. It will be hosted by Kristen Welker from NBC News. It lasts 90 minutes with 15 minutes allocated to each of the six topics.

The topics selected by Welker are:

Fight Against Covid-19American FamiliesRace in AmericaClimate ChangeNational SecurityLeadership

The changes came in the wake of the vicious and chaotic first debate in late September, during which Trump frequently interrupted the former Vice President and intermittently discussed with Fox News host Chris Wallace.

The Debate Commission's statement on Monday evening said: "The opinion of many who expressed concern that the debate was below expectations deprived voters of the opportunity to be informed of the candidates' positions on these issues."

In order for candidates to freely share their views in the final debate, the commission announced that "the only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two minutes will be the candidate who has the floor according to the rules".

"After talking to both campaigns, we find that neither campaign can be completely satisfied with the measures announced today. One might think that they are going too far and one might think that they are not going far enough," said the Commission in the statement.

"We feel comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and are in the interests of the American people for whom these debates are being conducted."

The Commission statement said: "Both campaigns this week have reaffirmed their approval of the two-minute uninterrupted rule."

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien in a statement accused the commission of bias but said the president was "determined to debate Joe Biden regardless of any last-minute rule changes".

Stepien's testimony also signaled that Trump would make allegations against Biden's son Hunter Biden during the debate.

A spokesman for Biden's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Commission had originally scheduled three debates between the two presidential candidates. Trump had previously urged planning a fourth debate.

However, the second debate was canceled after Trump refused to attend after the commission decided to hold the event virtually, not in person. This step took place after Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus and subsequently hospitalized.

The President and his campaign have aggressively criticized the Debate Commission and its select group of moderators. Wallace, who repeatedly admonished Trump during the debate to have his turn to speak, was attacked by the president and his deputies.

The second debate, now canned, was to be moderated by C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully. Trump had previously accused Scully of political bias.

After the debate was scrapped, Scully was suspended from C-SPAN after admitting to lying that his Twitter account had been "hacked". Scully made the false claim after tweeting a message to former White House official critic Anthony Scaramucci that was apparently private.

On Saturday, Trump said in a tweet about Welker: "She was always terrible and unfair, just like most fake news reporters, but I'll play the game anyway."

The previous Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien shared a letter on Twitter asking the hosts of the debate to make sure foreign policy is at the center, not coronavirus, climate change or race in America.

– CNBC's Amanda Macias contributed to this report.

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