trump town hall
October 15, 2020

Mary Trump has a problem with one of Savannah Guthrie's questions for her uncle.

During President Trump's Thursday town hall with NBC News, Guthrie asked Trump about his questionable tweets and retweets furthering far-right conspiracy theories. Trump tried to defend some of them as "retweets," saying he'll "put it out there, people can decide for themselves." "I don't get that. You're the president! You're not like someone's crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever," Guthrie responded.

Mary Trump, the president's niece who publicly demolished him in a tell-all memoir out earlier this year, had a quick rebuttal.

While she stayed silent through the 2016 election and most of Trump's presidency, Mary Trump told the story of how her family "created the world's most dangerous man" in her memoir, and even released recordings of other family members secretly disparaging the president. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 15, 2020

President Trump insists his hundreds of millions of dollars of debt isn't a big deal.

Trump's tax returns obtained by The New York Times reveal he owes $421 million in debt, something he didn't deny to NBC News' Savannah Guthrie during his Thursday town hall. Instead, he tried to play the massive sum off as a "peanut" in comparison with his net worth, insisting it was a natural piece of running a real estate business to "mortgages" in his name.

But when Guthrie asked Trump just who he owed that money to, he wouldn't say. "No, I don't owe Russia money," Trump claimed, but didn't explain further.

It's been widely reported — and actually disclosed by Trump — that Trump owes millions of dollars to the German-run Deutsche Bank, which reportedly extended him loans despite knowing he inflated his net worth. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 15, 2020

President Trump has once again refused to disavow the QAnon conspiracy theory.

During his town hall event with NBC News on Thursday, moderator Savannah Guthrie explained the concept of QAnon — "Democrats are a satanic pedophile ring and that you are the savior" — to Trump and asked him to debunk it. "I know nothing about QAnon," Trump responded, to which Guthrie made it clear, "I just told you."

But then Trump suggested he did know something about the conspiracists: "What I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that," he said. Guthrie then tried to get him to say there wasn't any "satanic pedophile cult," and Trump simply said, "I don't know that, and neither do you know that."

As Guthrie explained, the far-right QAnon conspiracy purports Democrats and Hollywood elites are part of a cannibalistic, pedophilic cabal and that Trump is leading a resistance against them. Trump's refusal to denounce the theory for the first time led QAnon supporters to celebrate. And NBC News' Ben Collins, who covers QAnon, suggested in a tweet that Trump's Thursday comments were "about as close to a dream scenario for QAnon followers as is humanly possible." Kathryn Krawczyk

October 15, 2020

President Trump seems to be suffering some short-term memory loss.

Both Trump and his White House team have repeatedly refused to reveal the last time Trump tested negative for COVID-19 before his positive test. Once again on Thursday during his town hall with NBC News, Trump wouldn't give moderator Savannah Guthrie an answer to that question — and wasn't even sure if he tested negative before debating Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

When Guthrie asked when Trump's last negative test was, Trump brushed it off by saying "I test quite a bit." But he affirmed that he isn't tested every day, and wasn't sure if the debate was one of the days he was tested. "I don't know. I don't even remember," he said. "You don’t know if you took a test the day of the debate?" Guthrie asked to clarify. "Possibly I did, possibly I didn't," Trump answered.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump both tested positive for the virus just two days after the first presidential debate in late September. Moderator Chris Wallace said Trump's family and team weren't tested once they arrived at the debate, leading to questions over when they were last tested. Kathryn Krawczyk

September 16, 2020

Polling consistently shows the economy to be President Trump's strongest issue, and he defended his record in an ABC News town hall in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night.

Many economists look at the economy since COVID-19 hit and see a K-shaped recovery — where "the people at the top who have a lot of stocks are doing pretty well" while everyone else is sliding downward, as moderator George Stephanopoulos put it. Trump is more bullish. "It looks like it's going to be a super V," he told an uncommitted voter who had asked him about acting more "presidential." "We're going to have a great economy next year."

The stock markets have recovered and even reached new highs, driven by tech companies, but half the 22.2 million workers who lost their jobs in the pandemic are still out of work. When Stephanopoulos pointed that out, Trump said: "George, stocks are owned by everybody. You know, they talk about the stock market is so good, that's 401(k)s. ... You have people that aren't wealthy but have done well because of the stock market."

About 55 percent of U.S. adults own stocks, either in individual companies or mutual or index funds, Gallup reported in June. And the richest 1 percent of Americans own more than half the stock owned by U.S. households, the Financial Times found. New York's Jonathan Chait gave Trump the benefit of the doubt.

Trump also suggested incorrectly that America's 50-year growth in income inequality peaked under his predecessor.

Inequality was still growing in the U.S., Pew noted in pre-pandemic February.

In fact, the super-wealthy have done very well during the pandemic — U.S. billionaires increased their collective wealth by $685 billion as of early August, according to one analysis. Watch Mother Jones try to put that in perspective. Peter Weber

September 15, 2020

President Trump fielded questions from uncommitted Pennsylvania voters Tuesday night during a 90-minute town hall hosted by ABC News. He didn't nail all the facts, and some of the voters asked challenging questions about Trump's coronavirus response, race, and the economy, but Trump was able to respond to the proffered concerns on prime-time network TV in one of the key 2020 battleground states.

How did Trump do? It didn't appear to be viewed as a big success at Fox News, where host Laura Ingraham suggested "the DNC may as well have put the whole thing on" over a chyron reading: "ABC Spring Ambush on Pres. Trump at Town Hall"

Ingraham played parts of some of Trump's interactions with the uncommitted voters, but here's how he responded in full to a question about face masks.

You can decide if the question was fair or the response balanced. Peter Weber

September 15, 2020

President Trump told author Bob Woodward earlier this year that the coronavirus was "more deadly than even your strenuous flu," but he wanted to "always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic." On Tuesday, he told undecided voters during an ABC News town hall that he "didn't downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action. My action was very strong."

The town hall, called "The President and the People," was held in Philadelphia and moderated by George Stephanopoulos. Trump fielded questions from audience members, including one who asked why he would "downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities."

Trump denied downplaying the virus and said one way he "up-played it" was by putting in place partial travel bans against China and parts of Europe in February and March. Stephanopoulos asked Trump to elaborate on his comments to Woodward, but Trump remained focused on the bans. "Whether you call it 'talent' or 'luck,' it was very important," he said. "So we saved a lot of lives when we did that."

Another voter asked Trump about his Make America Great Again campaign slogan, saying this "pushes us back to a time in which we cannot identify with such 'greatness.' You've said everything else about choking and everything else, but you have yet to address and acknowledge that it has been a race problem in America."

Trump responded, "Well, I hope there's not a race problem. I can tell you there's none with me because I have great respect for all races, for everybody. This country is great because of it." He added that he has been "bringing people together," and before the pandemic he ushered in "the best unemployment numbers they've ever had in the Black community, by far." Catherine Garcia

March 5, 2020

President Trump believes his impeachment has "damaged" former Vice President Joe Biden in his quest to become the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

"They aimed at Trump and they took Biden down," Trump said Thursday evening during a Fox News Town Hall in Biden's home town of Scranton, Pennsylvania. During the impeachment, Trump was accused of withholding military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation into Biden, then considered the Democratic frontrunner. After stumbles in early voting states, Biden had major wins on Super Tuesday and is now ahead in delegates.

Trump also took a swipe at Biden's cognitive function, saying that when he mistakenly said it was Thursday on Tuesday and stated he was running for U.S. Senate instead of president, it showed "there's something going on there." Catherine Garcia

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