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Trump campaign denies asking debate moderator not to mention COVID-19 deaths

The Trump campaign on Tuesday denied that it requested debate moderators not mention the number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths during the first 2020 presidential debate.

The denial comes after the Trump campaign requested that both President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden take a drug test before the debate, followed by the team asking the former vice president to have his ears checked for any earpieces or sound devices.

A staff writer for The Atlantic posted on Twitter that Biden's deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield said the Trump campaign asked as a condition for Tuesday's Fox News debate moderator, Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceEx-Trump aide McEnany knocks Biden: Presidents should not 'inflame' tensions Cornyn defends controversial tweet as not about Biden's competency Sullivan: White House 'absolutely committed' to raising refugee cap MORE, not to mention the over 200,000 American deaths from the coronavirus during the debate.

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The tweet was blasted by the Trump campaign's director of communications Tim Murtaugh, who called the reporting "a lie."

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Murtaugh denied the request was ever made, saying, "This is a lie and a continuation of the politicization of a public health crisis that Biden has been engaged in for months."

The Trump administration's COVID-19 pandemic response is anticipated to be one of several talking points former Vice President BidenJoe BidenBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Overnight Defense: Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave | Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security | Army conducts review after 4 Black soldiers harassed at Virginia IHOP Feds expect to charge scores more in connection to Capitol riot MORE will use against the president during the debate.

The Hill reached out to the Biden campaign but did not immediately receive a response.

Tuesday night's debate is slated to last 1 1/2 hours and is the first of three debates between the two candidates before Election Day on Nov. 3

The debate is set to start at 9 p.m. at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.