Trump Hints at Bypassing ‘Very Biased’ Committee on Presidential Debates in 2020 and ‘Doing Them Directly’

“I look very much forward to debating whoever the lucky person is who stumbles across the finish line,” president tweets

Last Updated: December 16, 2019 @ 8:19 AM

President Trump lashed out on Monday at what he called the “very biased” Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), hinting he may try to bypass the nonpartisan group in 2020, claiming it is “stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers.”

The CPD quickly responded responded, however, saying in a statement to TheWrap: “Our record is one of fairness, balance and non-partisanship.”

In Trump’s Twitter tirade, he wrote: “I look very much forward to debating whoever the lucky person is who stumbles across the finish line in the little watched Do Nothing Democrat Debates. My record is so good on the Economy and all else, including debating, that perhaps I would consider more than 3 debates…..”

He continued, “The problem is that the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers. 3 years ago they were forced to publicly apologize for modulating my microphone in the first debate against Crooked Hillary” — a reference to 2016 Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

In September 2016, the commission released a statement — not an apology, as Trump said — which acknowledged, “Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump’s audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall.”

On Monday, Trump went on to write: “As President, the debates are up… to me, and there are many options, including doing them directly & avoiding the nasty politics of this very biased Commission. I will make a decision at an appropriate time but in the meantime, the Commission on Presidential Debates is NOT authorized to speak for me (or R’s)!”

It was not clear what the president meant by doing debates “directly” since any contest would require the participation of his Democratic challenger. While candidates have the right to participate (or refuse to participate) in any debates, the timing and format have previously been negotiated by all the major candidates and not left up to the sitting president solely.

“The televised general election debates are an important part of our democratic process.  Since 1988, the Commission on Presidential Debates has conducted 30 general election presidential and vice presidential debates,” said the CPD Monday. “Our record is one of fairness, balance and non-partisanship.  As announced on October 11, 2019, CPD has selected four distinguished universities to host the 2020 presidential and vice presidential debates, and those universities are already hard at work on these important civic education forums.”

The universities chosen for the debates are the University of Norte Dame, the University of Utah, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Belmont University.