Ahead of debate, Trump escalates calls for Biden drug tests, accusations of CNN bias

Written by on June 25, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — With only days to go until he faces off against President Joe Biden in Thursday’s CNN debate, former President Donald Trump is escalating his demands that Biden take a pre-debate drug test, something the Biden campaign rejected as “desperate.”

That’s in addition to a growing list of complaints Trump and his campaign are making about CNN, accusing the network and its moderators of being biased.

“DRUG TEST FOR CROOKED JOE BIDEN??? I WOULD, ALSO, IMMEDIATELY AGREE TO ONE!!!” Trump wrote on his social media platform Monday afternoon and later fundraising off his call.

Trump has called for Biden to be drug-tested as early as April, saying he would debate Biden “anytime” and “anywhere” if the president takes a drug test. He has escalated such attacks since he and Biden agreed to debate in May, citing Biden’s strong showing in his State of the Union address in March.

At his recent rally in Philadelphia on Saturday, Trump continued to push the baseless claim that if Biden did well on Thursday night, it would be because he was taking performance-enhancing drugs.

“So, a little before debate time, he gets a shot in the ass — they want to strengthen him up so he comes out, he’ll come out, okay, I say he’ll come out all jacked up, right? All jacked up,” Trump told the crowd.

The Biden campaign quickly dismissed Trump’s demand, saying he would not submit to a drug test.

“Donald Trump is so scared of being held accountable for his toxic agenda of attacking reproductive freedom and cutting Social Security that he and his allies are resorting to desperate, obviously false lies,” a Biden campaign spokesman said.

“Trump’s going to talk trash like that all the time because that’s what he does. The other day you may remember he was trying to question our president’s mental acuity and he could not remember the name of his own doctor so tell President Trump, bring whatever he’s got — President Biden will be standing there, ready for him,” Biden campaign adviser Mitch Landrieu said on CNN. (Trump had referred to his White House physician Ronny Jackson as Ronny Johnson at a campaign rally.)

Calling for drug tests has been a tactic Trump has used repeatedly for years. He previously called on Biden to take a drug test before their 2020 debates, suggesting without evidence that Biden must have been on “performance-enhancing drugs” during that year’s Democratic primary. In 2016, Trump made similar unsubstantiated claims about Hillary Clinton.

At the same time, Trump and his campaign also are continuing to level accusations that CNN will favor President Biden on Thursday, a charge fueled by Trump’s national press secretary, Karoline Leavitt, during an appearance on CNN that was cut short Monday.

On “CNN This Morning,” anchor Kasie Hunt attempted to get Leavitt to answer questions about the Trump campaign’s debate preparations and expectations.

Leavitt, instead, tried to attack CNN and debate moderator Jake Tapper.

She was quickly cut off twice by Hunt who said she wouldn’t give Leavitt a platform to criticize her colleagues. After Leavitt continued her attacks against the CNN debate moderators, she was dropped from the segment.

“You come on my show, you respect my colleagues. Period. I don’t care what side of the aisle you stand on, as my track record clearly shows,” Hunt posted on X after the show wrapped.

“You cut off my microphone for bringing up the debate moderator’s history of anti-Trump lies,” Leavitt responded on X. “This proved our point that President Trump will not be treated fairly on Thursday. Yet he is still willing to go into this 3-1 fight to bring his winning message to the American people, and he will win.”

In a statement to ABC News, a CNN spokesperson called Jake Tapper and Dana Bash “well respected veteran journalists” with extensive experience moderating major political debates.

“There are no two people better equipped to co-moderate a substantial and fact-based discussion and we look forward to the debate on June 27 in Atlanta.”

On the campaign trail, Trump also has complained about the debate being hosted by CNN as well as about the rules he and his campaign agreed to, including not having an audience and the mics being muted when it’s not the candidate’s turn speaking.

“You know, I agreed to the debates. They came up to me and they said, ‘We’re going to do a debate. We’d like to challenge you to a debate.’ But they didn’t want me to accept. So, they gave me something that I couldn’t accept,” said Trump at a rally in Racine, Wisconsin, last week.

“They thought I would say, no, I don’t want to do because CNN is so, you know, it’s fake news. But I think maybe they’ll be honest,” Trump said. “I think fake Tapper would really help himself if it were honest. But you’ll see immediately if it is or not.”

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