President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden clashed over alleged foreign financial entanglements in the final presidential debate on Thursday, with Trump telling Biden “you owe an explanation to the American people” about son Hunter Biden’s past business dealings as the former vice president empathetically denied anything “unethical” took place.
The debate exchange followed the recent news reports of past communications between Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and his business partners that have raised questions about what Joe Biden knew about these foreign business dealings. Biden’s campaign has denied involvement or making money off these dealings, but the president pressed his rival over the reports during the debate.
“All of the emails … the horrible emails of the kind of money that you were raking in, you and your family. And Joe, you were vice president when some of this was happening. And it should’ve never happened,” Trump said. “I think you owe an explanation to the American people.”
Biden responded: “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.” Attempting to turn the tables back on Trump, Biden said: “We learned this president paid 50 times the tax in China, has a secret bank account with China. Does business in China.”
“I have released all of my tax returns … 22 years of my tax returns,” Biden said. “You have not released a single solitary year of your tax returns … what are you hiding?”
Trump said that he would release his tax returns “as soon as I can” — a claim the president has been making without follow-up for years. He further claimed to have “pre-paid” his taxes.
About an hour before the debate, Tony Bobulinski, an old business partner of Hunter Biden delivered an in-person statement claiming he’d worked with the elder Biden. Biden repeatedly in the past denied being involved in the younger Biden’s business dealings and continued Thursday to deny it through a statement by campaign spokesman Andrew Bates.
Trump invited Bobulinski to be his special guest at the Thursday debate.
“As Chris Wallace said on the air about this very smear, ‘Vice President Biden has actually released his tax returns – unlike President Trump – and there is no indication he ever got any money from anybody in these business deals,'” Bates said. “Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever. He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him.”
Also during the debate, the candidates clashed over coronavirus as candidates ridiculed each others’ approaches to the pandemic.
“Anybody responsible for that many deaths should not remain President of the United States of America,” Biden said.
“We can’t lock ourselves in a basement like he does.. he has this thing about living in a basement,” Trump said.
Trump claimed that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” and that the virus is “going away.”
Trump also claimed that there will be a vaccine “going to be announced within weeks” thanks to Operation Warp Speed, which is a public-private partnership to manufacture coronavirus vaccines then distribute them once they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Trump specifically mentioned Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer as companies whose vaccines have shown promise.
Biden, however, mentioned that more than 200,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus pandemic and predicted “we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year.”
“We’re about to go into a dark winter, a dark winter,” Biden said.
Biden added that under his administration he would “make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time… national standards… to open up schools, open up businesses.”
He also ridiculed Trump for his push to quickly open up the country.
“‘All you teachers out there, not that many of you are going to die, so don’t worry about it,'” Biden said, portraying that as Trump’s attitude on the pandemic. “Come on.”
The first few minutes of the debate involved far fewer — if any — interruptions compared to the first debate. That is potentially a side-effect of a new rule requiring candidates’ mics to be muted during their opponent’s two-minute uninterrupted answer and the harsh criticism Trump received for his many interruptions in the first debate.
The final presidential debate comes as controversy swirls around both candidates and the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) itself, and during one of the busiest times in politics in at least recent American history.
But the coronavirus and the Hunter Biden story are just the start of the political whirlwind blowing through America right now on a number of issues that may or may not be discussed at the debate simply because of the sheer volume of news.
The Senate is in the middle of a Supreme Court confirmation. Congress and the White House are negotiating a coronavirus stimulus bill that is looking increasingly unlikely to come before the presidential election. Racial tensions, after a summer of protests and sometimes riots, are simmering just below the surface (this is a planned topic at the debate).
Mail-in voting may delay the result of the presidential election and has spurred on a flood of lawsuits. Trump, citing concerns about mail-in voting, has hemmed and hawed on whether or not he would accept the result of the election, leading to speculation about a peaceful transfer of power. Russia and Iran are trying to interfere with the election, according to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, and have obtained some of Americans’ voter registration information.
And the presidential election — which Biden has framed the presidential election as “a battle for the soul of this nation,” while Trump has said is a choice between “the American Dream” and a “socialist hellhole” — is just 12 days away.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.
Tyler Olson covers politics for FoxNews.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @TylerOlson1791.