Here are the biggest moments from the chaotic first Trump-Biden debate

Here are the biggest moments from the chaotic first Trump-Biden debate
U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020.Olivier Douliery/Pool via Reuters
  • The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was characterized by yelling, interrupting, falsehoods, and conspiracy theories — most of it from Trump.
  • The president said the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, should "stand by" amid nationwide protests against racism.
  • The president repeated misinformation about Biden's son Hunter and his foreign business dealings.
  • The interruptions were so over-the-top that the debate moderator Chris Wallace pleaded with Trump several times to stop. Biden took a more blunt approach, telling Trump to "shut up."
  • Scroll down for more highlights from the first 2020 presidential debate.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden went head-to-head in a chaotic first debate Tuesday night.

The night was dominated by yelling, interruptions, and wild conspiracy theories, mostly coming from Trump. In all, as Business Insider's John Haltiwanger wrote, the debate was a "political horror show."

Here are the highlights from the hour-and-a-half debate:

Trump went after Biden over his intelligence and where he went to college

In one of Trump's harshest attacks of the evening, the president berated Biden over his academic credentials — despite his own niece accusing him of cheating on his SATs to get into the University of Pennsylvania — calling Biden the "lowest or almost the lowest in your class."

Trump also falsely accused Biden of claiming to have attended Delaware State University, a historically Black institution.


Trump told the far-right extremist Proud Boys group to 'stand by,' and its members noticed

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said of the neofascist group after Wallace and Biden pressed him to explicitly condemn white-supremacist groups and right-wing militias.

Members of the Proud Boys were quick to jump on Trump's remarks, with some interpreting it as a call to violence.

Biden told Trump to 'shut up'

Biden got fed up after Trump cut him off repeatedly in the first 20 minutes of the debate.

"Would you shut up, man?" Biden told Trump.

Biden later called Trump a "clown" and expressed his disbelief at Trump's consistent efforts to interrupt him.


Trump gave a bizarre answer on climate change by talking about 'forest management'

Asked whether he believed the science behind humans contributing to climate change with greenhouse-gas emissions, Trump went on a tangent focusing mainly on wildfires. He also claimed his administration planted 1 billion trees.

Chris Wallace pleaded with Trump to stop interrupting

Things got so bad with the cross-talk and Trump cutting Biden off that Wallace stopped proceedings to make a plea to the president to play by the rules.

Trump called on his supporters to 'go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen'

"Will you urge your supporters to stay calm during this extended period not to engage in civil unrest, and will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified?" Wallace asked the candidates.

"I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen," Trump said. "I am urging them to do it. As you know today, there was a big problem: In Philadelphia they went in to watch ... they were thrown out. They weren't allowed to watch. There are bad things happening in Philadelphia, bad things."

Multiple fact-checkers and election experts said the president's encouragement amounted to attempted voter suppression through intimidation.


His claims about Philadelphia were also untrue, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer: "There were several reasons — none is corruption — why elections staff did not allow members of the public to arbitrarily enter their offices. The Trump campaign has no poll watchers approved to work in Philadelphia at the moment. There are no actual polling places open in the city right now. And elections officials are following coronavirus safety regulations, such as those limiting the number of people indoors."

Honorable mention: CNN anchor's no-holds-barred assessment of the debate

"I'm just going to say it like it is: that was a s---show," CNN's Dana Bash said. "And we're on cable, we can say that. Apologies for maybe being a little bit crude."