Trump refuses to say if he took COVID-19 test before first debate with Biden

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U.S. President Donald Trump was evasive Thursday night when pressed if he took a COVID-19 test before his first debate with Democrat Joe Biden as the two men squared off again, in a way, after their scuttled second showdown was replaced by dueling televised town halls several channels apart.
NEW YORK -- U.S. President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden squared off, in a way, Thursday night, their scuttled second debate replaced by dueling televised town halls that showcased striking differences in temperament, views on racial justice and approaches to the pandemic that has reshaped the nation.

Trump was defensive about his administration's handling of the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 215,000 American lives, and evasive when when pressed about whether he took a required COVID-19 test before his first debate with Biden. Angry and combative, he refused to denounce the QAnon conspiracy group --and only testily did so on white supremacists.

The president also appeared to acknowledge he was in debt and left open the possibility that some of it was owed to a foreign bank. He insisted that he didn't owe any money to Russia or any "sinister people" and suggested that being $400 million in debt was a "very very small percentage" compared to his overall assets.

Biden, appearing nearly 1,200 miles away, denounced the White House's handling of the virus, declaring that it was at fault for closing a pandemic response office established by the Obama administration in which he served. Though vague at times, he acknowledged it was a mistake to support a 1994 crime bill that led to increased Black incarceration and suggested he finally will offer clarity on his position on expanding the Supreme Court if Trump's nominee to the bench is seated before Election Day.

Trump, less than two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19, dodged directly answering whether he took a test the day of the Sept. 29 debate, only saying "possibly I did, possibly I didn't." Debate rules required that each candidate, using the honour system, had tested negative prior to the Cleveland event, but Trump spoke in circles when asked when he last tested negative.

It was his positive test two days later that created Thursday's odd spectacle, which deprived most viewers of a…
The Associated Press, Jonathan Lemire, Will Weissert and Darlene Superville
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