In a series of tweets on Monday, Donald Trump appeared to be publicly laying the groundwork to skip next year’s general-election debates held by the bipartisan, nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates. The president said he’s eager to square off against the Democratic nominee and suggested a willingness to debate more than the three times that are currently scheduled. However, he wrote, he has a problem with the group sponsoring the debates because he thinks it’s biased against him.
“The problem is that the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers,” he tweeted. He also claimed, falsely, that the group was “forced to publicly apologize” for microphone issues after a 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton.
The 2016 issue Trump is referring to came during his first debate with Clinton in September of that year. Immediately after the debate, Trump complained about a “defective mic.” The Commission confirmed that Trump’s microphone had issues inside the debate hall, but it didn’t apologize.
The Commission has previously rejected Trump’s claim of bias and addressed his concerns, as reported by the New York Times, about the political leanings of moderators. In October, Frank Fahrenkopf, the Republican co-chair of the commission, said it’s aiming to find moderators who are not biased toward anyone. “We’re looking for that person who is as unbiased as possible, will do a fair job, and be a facilitator,” Fahrenkopf told Politico.
Trump suggested that he may try holding debates “directly.” It’s not clear what that means, but it sounds like the Democratic nominee may have to debate Trump at Mar-a-Lago with Sean Hannity moderating, or there may be no debates at all.