The upcoming presidential debate comes with a dose of anticipation, not just for the showdown between President Trump and Joe Biden (D), but between Trump and moderator Chris Wallace, given that the Fox News personality has a lengthy history of criticizing the president himself.
Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace will moderate the September 29 presidential debate, which will take place at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. While some progressives have balked at the thought of having a Fox News personality moderate the first debate, Wallace has remained a steadfast critic of President Trump, which could provide another contentious element to the debate, given the anchor’s public positions and remarks throughout Trump’s presidency. Such remarks prompted Bloomberg News to deem Wallace the “new face of the Trump resistance” last October, following Shepard Smith’s departure from the network.
Below are some of Wallace’s attacks on Trump and his administration.
1. Wallace said there was a “huge problem with the credibility of the White House.”
In July 2017, just months after Trump assumed office, Wallace stated that the White House had a “credibility” problem as the Trump-Russia collusion hoax began to heat up:
“There is a huge problem with the credibility of the White House because they kept saying there is no collusion, there have been no contacts, this is all a hoax, it is all fake news. And then it keeps coming up that people we haven’t heard about did have these meetings,” he said at the time.
2. Wallace suggested Trump “can blame” the Mueller probe on himself.
In August 2018,Wallace discussed Trump’s remarks on then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, concluding that Trump could only blame the Mueller probe on himself because he fired James Comey.
“Remember though, that the recusal of Sessions did not lead to the special counsel. It was the firing of Comey, of James Comey, the FBI Director that lead to the appointment of the special counsel,” he said. “And the only person the president can blame for that is himself.”
3. Wallace said Trump received “too much credit” for holding the Senate majority in the 2018 midterms.
On the night of the midterm elections, Wallace suggested that Trump was receiving “too much credit” after the GOP retained a majority in the Senate.
“I think we are…giving too much credit to Donald Trump for holding on to the Senate. The fact is, this was a historically difficult year for the Democrats. The Democrats had 26 seats that they had to defend. The Republicans had nine seats they had to defend,” he said, clarifying that he was not trying to diminish the president’s efforts.
However, he said he considered it a “tremendous overstatement to say that this is a — that Donald Trump pulled a hat out of the bag.”
“This was a — this was something he should have been expected to do. He did it,” he continued. “Congratulations to him, but let’s temper our excitement over Donald Trump’s performance tonight.”
4. Wallace reasoned that Mueller’s testimony did not give Trump a “clean legal bill of health.”
Following former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony last year, Wallace concluded that it did not give the president a “clean legal bill of health”:
“There were a lot of damaging facts that were related,” he said. “And to the degree that he came forward, and he didn’t often, but that Mueller did say some things that were negative about the president in terms of enumerating allegations in his report.”
5. Wallace believed there was “meat on the bones” of the partisan impeachment inquiry.
Shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced a formal impeachment iniquiry into President Trump, Wallace declared that it did, in fact, have something to it. He said:
The fact is that President Trump and his staff have really said quite a lot since Sunday in trying to explain or defend what they did that puts a lot of meat on the bones. The fact that the president says that in that congratulatory phone call with the president-elect at that time of Ukraine, he did talk about Joe Biden. He did talk about Joe Biden and his son and possible corruption and expressed some concern about wanting the Ukrainian president to look into that.
It may not bear fruit, but there is some meat on the bones here, both in terms of what the president said to the Ukrainian president and the actions that he had taken to stop aid before he made that call. So, there’s going to be something here for Congress to investigate, whether it ends up rising to the levels of articles of impeachment, we don’t know.
Wallace would later go on to say he felt “goosebumps” after Democrats finally voted to approve a resolution outlining the procedures for the impeachment inquiry.
“As they called the vote, I have to say I can feel goosebumps,” Wallace said. “You cannot overstate how dramatic this is and what a decision the Democrats have made to pursue this course.”
6. Wallace said there was “no question” Trump was “stoking racial divisions”
During a July 2019 interview with White House adviser Stephen Miller, Wallace stated, unequivocally, that Trump was “stoking” racial divisions in the country:
Fox's banner is weak — "critics point to a history of controversial statements" by Trump — but Chris Wallace's words are strong: "There is no question that he is stoking racial divisions." pic.twitter.com/7Hlsz1rDJV
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) July 21, 2019
“Nobody has any problem with what the president’s policies have been. It’s when he goes into stoking racial fears,” the anchor said. “I’ve never called any of his tweets racists, but there’s no question that he is stoking racial divisions.”
7. Wallace took issue with Trump calling liberal-run areas “crime-infested.”
The Fox News anchor attempted to establish a “clear pattern” during a conversation with former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney last year, accusing the president of using distinct language when referring to minority lawmakers and their districts:
he told Mulvaney:
You say it has little to do with race, there is a clear pattern here. The fact is before his inauguration. The president tweeted about John Lewis, a black congressman. This is before his inauguration. ‘He should spend time in his crime-infested district.’ Then, two weeks ago he goes after these four members of “The Squad,” all women of color, and says they should go back to the crime-infested countries from which they come. Then he talks about Elijah Cummings, and he says his district is rat and rodent-infested. Infested, it sounds like vermin. It sounds subhuman, and these are all six members of Congress for people of color.
8. Wallace said Trump “engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.”
Speaking at an event honoring the First Amendment at the Newseum in Washington, DC, last December, Wallace stated that President Trump is actively assaulting the freedom of the press:
“I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” he said at the event, accusing Trump of attempting to “uncut the media to try and delegitimize us.”
“I think his purpose is clear to raise doubts when we report critically about him and his administration that we can be trusted,” he said.
“Let’s be honest, the president’s attacks have done some damage,” he added. “A Freedom Forum Institute poll this year found 29 percent of Americans think the First Amendment goes ‘too far.’ And 77 percent say ‘fake news’ is a serious threat to our democracy.”
9. Wallace accused Trump of essentially promoting a Kremlin disinformation campaign.
During a discussion with Vice President Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short last December, Wallace asked if the president believed that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election:
Every major U.S. intelligence agency says it was Russia that interfered in the election. During a House Intel Committee hearings, a member of the Trump National Security council Fiona Hill said this idea that Ukraine interfered in the election is Kremlin disinformation, so why does the president think it’s still worth investigating whether Ukraine did something?
10. Wallace declared that House impeachment managers made a “powerful” case against the president.
In January, as the partisan House impeachment inquiry continued to heat up, Wallace proclaimed that the impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), presented a “powerful case” against the president. He said:
You can say if you think it’s impeachable or not. They have made a powerful case. They have a lot of witnesses. They have a lot of graphics. They have a lot of evidence. I can’t imagine what I have for 16 more hours, and I wonder, to some degree, whether when the White House gets its turn, they are going to be disadvantaged by this because yes, they will have new things to say.
11. Wallace dismissed Trump’s concerns about potential mail-in ballot fraud and claimed that there “isn’t a history of fraud with mail-in voting.”
As Trump and the GOP continued to warn of the risks posed by mass mail-in voting, Wallace declared that there “isn’t a history of fraud with mail-in voting.” He said:
They were two points I’d think about that. One, I have considered a lot of other groups; there just isn’t a history of fraud with mail-in voting—fewer than 1,000 cases since 2000 with billions of votes cast. So I think it is for 500 cases and all of them very minor and the fraud doesn’t particularly advantage one party or the other.
He repeated the same sentiment in May:
Well, you know, I’ve done some deep dive in it, there really is no record of massive fraud or even serious fraud from mail-in voting. It’s being carried out in Republican states, being carried out in Democratic states, there is no indication that mail-in voting, as opposed to in-person voting, tends to favor one party over another.
12: Wallace proclaimed that Democrat leaders like Joe Biden (D) are “not supporting” defunding police.
In June, Wallace attempted to push back on Trump’s warnings of Democrats seeking to defund the police, proclaiming that it “isn’t” coming from Democrats such as Biden.
“The vast majority of Democratic leaders in this country are not supporting that,” he said.
“They are not talking about defund police. I understand there is something of a split in the party, but I gotta say the vast majority of the party doesn’t want to go that far among other reasons because they know it’s too far to the left, too extreme for the vast majority of voters in this country,” he said.
““There are people on the far left of the party, the so-called Squad, people like Ilhan Omar, but we have seen this before, whether it was on the Green New Deal or Medicare for all that certainly is an element of the party, but not the majority of the party,” he added.
A poll released just days before showed that a majority of Democrats, 55 percent, supported the Black Lives Matter’s call to defund police:
Chris Wallace says Joe Biden doesn’t want to defund police
“Can we agree that we can redirect some [police] funding”
Joe Biden “absolutely” wants to defund police
RT so Chris can’t ignore! pic.twitter.com/rcXZyeDunC
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) July 20, 2020
13. Wallace praised Michelle Obama, stating that she “really flayed, sliced and diced Donald Trump” during her Democratic National Convention speech.
Wallace issued high praise for former first lady Michelle Obama following her impassioned Democratic National Convention speech, suggesting that she, effectively, took down the president:
She said that the speech was her main contribution to the Biden campaign. It was a heck of a contribution. She really flayed, sliced and diced Donald Trump talking about the chaos and confusion and lack of empathy, especially coming from this president and this White House, spoke more about the deficits of Donald Trump than the pluses of Joe Biden, but did talk about especially, not so much policies, but especially his empathy and what he has been through and his care for average Americans.
“She said we have to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it. And again, very practical, not just this is what you’re feeling should be, but you have to get out, you have to vote, you have to convince your neighbors to vote. This was a very effective speech,” he added:
14: Wallace said Biden “blew a hole” in Trump’s attacks.
Wallace also praised Biden following his relatively brief convention speech, describing it as “enormously effective.”
“Remember, Donald Trump has been talking for months about Joe Biden as mentally shot, a captive of the left. And yes, Biden was reading from the teleprompter and a prepared speech, but I thought that he blew a hole, a big hole in the characterization,” he assessed:
“Trump has been talking for months of Joe Biden as mentally shot…Biden blew a big hole in that characterization.” -Chris Wallace pic.twitter.com/xLf1aOllrk
— Biden Republicans (@BidenReps) August 21, 2020
Notably, Wallace did not offer high praise for Trump’s Republican National Convention speech, describing it as “surprisingly flat.”
“There were impressive fireworks on the mall. But I have to say I was surprised at the lack of fireworks in the president’s speech tonight. First of all, it was far too long. 70 minutes exactly. I thought at times it felt like more a State of the Union speech, like a campaign speech,” he said.
“I have to say, in his delivery, again, I thought the president — who we have seen really turn on a crowd — was surprisingly flat and didn’t seem to have the bite that he usually does have in his speeches,” Wallace added.
15. Wallace hinted at Trump and GOP hypocrisy on filling the current Supreme Court vacancy.
Most recently, Wallace asked Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) if the GOP, and Trump, were acting in a hypocritical manner for charging forward in filling the SCOTUS vacancy prior to the election.
“You really don’t think there is any hypocrisy at all in saying we need to give voters… You stated a pretty firm principle in 2016 about Merrick Garland. It’s wrong to deny voters a chance to weigh in. You don’t see any hypocrisy between that position then and this position now?” he asked on Sunday:
On Tuesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates released the topics Wallace has chosen for the debate, which include:
- The Trump and Biden Records
- The Supreme Court
- The Economy
- Race and Violence in our Cities
- The Integrity of the Election
The debate begins at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.