Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed on Twitter this morning that Hillary Clinton got the questions in advance of last night’s presidential debate.
Trump said on Thursday that Hillary Clinton was “inappropriately” given debate questions and secretly used them. There is no evidence that this happened, nor had anyone made this allegation prior to Trump’s bizarre tweet.
It’s possible Trump is referring to the fact that, according to emails released by WikiLeaks, Democratic National Committee interim Chair and CNN commentator Donna Brazile may have given Hillary Clinton a question in advance of a town hall debate during the Democratic primary. Brazile sent the Clinton camp information about a question, and a very similar question was asked during the town hall event. Brazile even said in an email that “From time to time, I get the questions in advance.”
However, this was a single question, and it was before a cable network’s private town hall rather than a major presidential debate. There is no evidence at this time that anything similar happened last night, and it certainly sounds like that is what Trump is alleging.
Trump has previously raised this issue of Clinton potentially getting debate questions, in his rallies conflating Clinton receiving a single question one time to Clinton being given all of the questions and answers in advance of every debate. He also sent out on Twitter last night a video of Donna Brazile struggling to explain herself to Megyn Kelly, with Trump saying that this was “highly illegal.” Needless to say, it is not illegal to leak a town hall question to a presidential candidate.
Trump has complained after every single debate this cycle that the moderators were biased against him. He said this before any of the debates happened, in fact, stating in September that the organizers were trying to game the system.
“By the way, Lester [Holt] is a Democrat,” Trump said before the first debate, which was moderated by NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt. “It’s a phony system. They are all Democrats. It’s a very unfair system.”
Lester Holt, moderator of the first presidential debate, is in fact a registered Republican. It’s true that Chris Wallace is a registered Democrat, but he says that this is only so that he can vote during the Democratic primaries in Washington D.C., which does not use an open primary system.
During the second presidential debate, Donald Trump complained that the moderators were ganging up on him, saying that it was “three-on-one,” meaning Anderson Cooper, Martha Raddatz and Hillary Clinton versus him. Trump holds a rally in Ohio this afternoon, and so it’s not difficult to imagine that he will go after Chris Wallace and float the unfounded conspiracy theory that Wallace gave his questions to Hillary Clinton in advance. The majority of the questions were quite simplistic, simply asking the candidates to explain their position on issues.
Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace, wrote the debate questions alone and was the only one to see them prior to the event, and so he alone would have to have leaked something to Clinton in Trump’s hypothetical scenario. Wallace is regarded as a true professional by virtually everyone in the industry and by politicians on both sides of the aisle.