presidential debates

First Presidential Debate: Trump's Taxes, COVID-19, SCOTUS Among Likely Topics

Expect fireworks over the coronavirus, the Supreme Court and President Trump's leaked tax returns as Trump and Joe Biden square off on the debate stage for the first time

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You got your popcorn ready?

With the first televised debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden set for Tuesday night, here's a quick snapshot of some of the hot button topics you can expect to come up during the course of the evening.

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

Nothing like a little breaking news on the eve of a big debate. After years of wrangling about "would he or wouldn't he" release his tax information, The New York Times obtained two decades of President Donald Trump's tax information, reporting Sunday that the president paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and again during his first year in office.

The Times reported Trump has not paid any income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years because he reported significant losses. It also reported Trump is facing a decade-long IRS audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he received that could end up costing him more than $100 million.

The Times also reported that Trump has more than $300 million in loans coming due within the next few years that he is personally responsible for repaying.

Trump wasted little time responding to the New York Times report, tweeting Monday it was "fake news."

While the Biden camp sent out a tweet of their own, comparing the amount of taxes Trump reportedly paid to the amount paid by working class Americans.

Hunter Biden

A frequent target of the Trump campaign, last week Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson released the findings of a GOP-led probe into Hunter Biden's role with a Ukrainian energy company while his father Joe Biden was vice president.

According to the report, U.S. officials found Hunter Biden received millions of dollars from sitting on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, and that his role on the board was “very awkward” for those in the Obama administration who were at the time pushing an anti-corruption agenda in that country. The report, though, provides no evidence that Hunter Biden’s position affected U.S. policy.

The SCOTUS Nomination

Another surefire topic of conversation will be Trump's nomination on Saturday of Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Leading Democrats on Sunday slammed Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court, saying it could be a death knell for the Affordable Care Act and poses a significant threat to the future of women's abortion rights. But they also conceded there's little they can do to actually derail the confirmation process.

Speaking on ABC News' "This Week," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Democrats "can slow it down perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most, but we can't stop the outcome."

205,000 COVID-19 Deaths and Counting

Recent news about Trump's taxes and the SCOTUS nomination have nearly pushed to the backburner the soaring number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States, now confirmed at 205,000 and counting, and how Trump's ongoing response to the virus may have contributed to that total.

Social Reckoning, Racial Upheaval

In addition to being the year of COVID-19, 2020 is also marked as a transformative moment of racial upheaval in the nation, underscored by the growing number of deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police, touched off by the shocking death of George Floyd that was caught on video shared across the country, and the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in a mistaken police raid in her own home. Just last week a Kentucky grand jury declined to indict the police officers responsible for Taylor's death which led to additional protests across the country.

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