President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred over their personal finances during their second presidential debate on Thursday evening at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
In a stunt reminiscent of the 2016 debate, when Trump brought Bill Clinton’s accusers to confront Hillary Clinton, his opponent at the time, the president’s team produced Tony Bobulinski, a former business partner of Hunter Biden, to bring up allegations of malfeasance by the Biden family before the debate. Bobulinski claimed to have damning evidence about both Bidens on phones that he said he had used when he was working with Hunter Biden, but declined to provide it to reporters or to take questions.
As expected, Trump brought up the accusations shortly into the debate.
“I think you have to clean it up and talk to the American people,” Trump said to Biden, in reference to the latest allegations, after accusing his opponent of corruption. “Maybe you can do it right now.”
After insisting that he has never received money from a foreign source, Biden turned his attention to Trump’s own business dealings abroad. Specifically, he cited a New York Times report published on Tuesday that described the president’s efforts to do business in China.
Among other things, that article indicated that the president has a bank account in China.
Biden also noted that Trump is the first president in modern history who has not divested from his business interests or released his tax returns. Trump’s real estate empire includes hotels and foreign properties that have done business with foreign government officials.
“You have not released a single solitary year of your tax returns. What are you hiding? Why are you unwilling?” Biden asked. “The foreign countries are paying you a lot.”
Trump reiterated his claim that he cannot release his tax returns because he is “under audit.” While reports on the president’s finances have confirmed that he is being audited, there is no rule that would prevent him from making his returns public while they are being reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service. He also said the bank account in China had been closed long before he ran for president.
“I have many bank accounts, and they’re all listed,” Trump said.
While the president has repeatedly claimed that he has paid large sums in taxes, he has also continually declined Biden’s challenges to publicize his returns. Biden returned to that point on the debate stage.
“Just show us. Stop playing around,” Biden said to Trump. “You’re not paying your taxes.”
Trump’s allegations against Biden follow a press conference earlier today, at which Bobulinski claimed to have emails that implicate the former vice president in his son’s work with a Chinese company.
The Biden campaign has responded to Bobulinski’s claims by noting that he has “never even considered being involved in business with his family” and pointing to Trump’s refusal to publicize his own tax information.
Biden also pointed out that, prior to Bobulinski’s disclosures, purported emails and texts from his son were surfaced by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Oct. 14. Trump has reportedly been warned by officials in his own administration that Giuliani may have been compromised by Russian intelligence and could be presenting information that aligned with their interests.
The U.S. intelligence community has previously concluded that the Russian government was seeking to boost Trump’s candidacy by intervening in the 2016 election.
Biden suggested that Trump was diverting attention to these alleged scandals to distract from his performance in the White House.
“There’s a reason why he’s bringing up all of this malarkey. There’s a reason he doesn’t want to talk about the substance of issues,” Biden said. “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family and your family’s hurting badly.”
Trump dismissed Biden’s allegations as politics.
“I’m not a typical politician,” Trump said. “That’s why I got elected.”
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