Ex-GOP senator on debate commission blasts Trump’s bias accusations, warns of ‘incalculable damage’

Former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), a member of the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates, ripped President Trump for accusing the nonpartisan organization for being biased against him.

Danforth declared Trump’s “attack on the debate commission is an attack on the election itself” while warning the president that he was doing “incalculable” damage.

Danforth made his argument in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday despite what he described as “a strict vow of silence regarding my personal feelings about the current presidential campaign.”

His op-ed focused on Trump’s criticisms of the debate moderators. Thursday’s debate is set to be moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, and the first debate was moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace. 

The second debate, which was canceled, was to be hosed by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, who was later suspended by his network for falsely claiming his Twitter account was hacked. The false story came after Scully tweeted to a former Trump staff member-turned-critic asking for help on debate questions, something that took place after Scully came under criticism. 

“The attack is just wrong,” Danforth wrote of Trump’s remarks on the commission and the debates.

“First, all the debate moderators the commission chose are highly professional and experienced. When the selection of the moderators was announced Sept. 2, neither campaign objected,” he said.

“The commission could not have anticipated that more than five weeks later, one of the moderators, Steve Scully — having been attacked by President Trump and his supporters — would reach out to a Trump critic seeking advice or that Scully would not own up to having done so,” he continued. “The commission relied on what had been Scully’s sterling reputation for professionalism.”

“It’s also nonsense to suggest that the commission has allowed the Biden campaign to steer the final debate away from foreign policy. As the Trump campaign knows, subject matter for the debates is outside the commission’s province and is chosen solely by the moderators,” Danforth later maintained.

“It is not the honor of the commission that is at stake here,” he concluded. “What is at stake is Americans’ belief in the fairness of our presidential debates and, in turn, the presidential election. When that faith is undermined, the damage to our country is incalculable.”

Danforth served three terms as U.S. senator from Missouri.

Trump called Thursday night’s debate moderator, Welker, “totally partisan” in an interview on “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday.

“Kristen Welker is terrible. I mean, she is totally partisan,” Trump said. “Her father and mother are big supporters of Joe Biden for a long time. They’re supporters of the Democrat Party, and she deleted her entire account.”

Welker’s Twitter account was deactivated in early October after the Scully controversy broke.

The second and final debate between Trump and Biden is slated for Thursday night from Nashville, Tenn.

Tags c-span Chris Wallace Commission on Presidential Debates Donald Trump Fox News Joe Biden NBC

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