Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien sent a scathing letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates on Tuesday for not including “foreign policy” as a debate topic, a move that comes as Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden faces renewed scrutiny over his actions as vice president related to his son’s foreign business dealings.
“We write with great concern over the announced topics for what was always billed as the ‘Foreign Policy Debate’ in the series of events agreed to by both the Trump campaign and Biden campaign many months ago. The topics announced by moderator Kristen Welker (Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership) are serious and worthy of discussion, but only a few of them even touch on foreign policy,” Stepien wrote. “Indeed, almost all of them were discussed at length during the first debate won by President Trump over moderator Chris Wallace and candidate Joe Biden. As is the long-standing custom, and as had been promised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate. We urge you to recalibrate the topics and return to subjects which had already been confirmed.”
The letter comes after the New York Post published multiple explosive reports last week about a laptop that allegedly belonged to Hunter Biden and contained emails that appeared to show that Joe Biden met with an executive at Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden served on the board.
Fox News later confirmed the veracity of some of the emails that were published, including ones that appeared “to outline a payout for former Vice President Joe Biden as part of a deal with a Chinese energy firm.”
Stepien’s letter continued:
“We understand that Joe Biden is desperate to avoid conversations about his own foreign policy record, especially since President Trump has secured historic peace agreements among Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. We recall that Biden’s former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, maintains that Biden has been “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Biden has supported endless wars and given aid and comfort to our adversaries, including Iran, which was delivered pallets loaded with mountains of cash just as four Americans were released from captivity in Tehran. Biden also has advanced the interests of China over his 47 years as a Washington politician, putting their concerns ahead of those of America workers. New information recently revealed indicates that Biden himself was mentioned as a financial beneficiary of a deal arranged by his son Hunter and a communist Chinese-related energy company. If a major party candidate for President of the United States is compromised by the Communist Party of China, this is something Americans deserve to hear about, but it is not surprising the Biden would want to avoid it. It is completely irresponsible for the Commission to alter the focus of this final debate just days before the event, solely to insulate Biden from his own history.
Sadly, this is not the first time the Commission has ceded to the wishes of the Biden campaign. Despite the obvious fact that millions of Americans began casting votes early this year, the Commission steadfastly refused to move the debate schedule earlier or add another event, simply because the Biden campaign objected. In this example, the Commission hid behind Biden’s unwillingness to be flexible with the schedule but has not hesitated to act unilaterally in other cases. As the most egregious example, the abrupt decision to switch the scheduled second debate on October 15 in Miami to a virtual setting was done without consultation with our campaign at all. Though the supposed reason for the change was public safety because of the coronavirus, the decision was made well before President Trump’s medical condition became apparent and well before the President was medically cleared as having tested negative for the virus. Proof of the illogic of the Commission’s decision is the fact that this action resulted in both Biden and President Trump holding their own, separate in-person events on the same night. If the Commission’s action was intended to prevent one in-person event, creating two such events as a result revealed the pointlessness of the decision.
The letter also highlighted alleged bias that the Trump campaign faced during the first debate, moderated by Chris Wallace, and also mentioned the recent debacle over the canceled C-SPAN debate which saw host Steve Scully lie about an interaction that he had on social media with a noted Trump critic.
The letter concluded:
It is our understanding from media reports that you will soon be holding an internal meeting to discuss other possible rule changes, such as granting an unnamed person the ability to shut off a candidate’s microphone. It is completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power, and a decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden. This is reminiscent of the first debate in 2016, when the President’s microphone was oscillated, and it is not acceptable.
For the good of campaign integrity, and for the benefit of the American people, we urge you to rethink and reissue a set of topics for the October 22 debate, with an emphasis on foreign policy. This is what the campaigns had agreed to and it has been the tradition in past campaigns. We await your immediate reply to these concerns. We further advise you that there is no reason to consult with the Biden campaign before replying because we all know what they think.
Our letter to the BDC (Biden Debate Commission) pic.twitter.com/ZsY5JfMbT7
— BillStepien (@BillStepien) October 19, 2020