Donald Trump’s fiery debate refusal
US President Donald Trump was at it again overnight, making a series of shocking claims just one hour after it was announced the second presidential debate would be virtual.
In interviews and on his own social media accounts, Mr Trump claimed he was in perfect physical shape, he was immune to COVID-19 and that he refused to take part in a "ridiculous" virtual debate designed to protect others' health.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced overnight that next Thursday's second presidential debate between Donald Trump and White House hopeful Joe Biden will no longer be held in-person as a result of Mr Trump's coronavirus infection.
Instead, the hotly-anticipated event would be held virtually "in order to protect the health and safety of all involved".
The announcement was made on Thursday and has been widely reported in the US media.
"The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate in separate remote locations," the commission said, according to the New York Post.
However, in a TV interview less than an hour after the Commission's announcement, Mr Trump said he was "not going to do a virtual debate", labelling the concept "ridiculous".
"I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That's not what debating is all about," he said in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on the Fox Business Network.
"The commission changed the debate style and that's not acceptable to us. I beat him in the first debate, I beat him easily.
"They're trying to protect Biden. Everybody is."
During the interview, Mr Trump also made several bizarre claims about his health after spending three days being treated for COVID-19 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, claiming he was "immune".
"I'm back because I am perfect physical specimen and I'm extremely young, and so I am lucky that way," he said.
"I don't have heart problems, I don't have diabetes…perhaps a couple of pounds I could lose here or there.
"And remember this: you catch it, and then you get better, and then you're immune!"
Meanwhile, Mr Biden appeared to accept the new conditions, with his deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield saying: "Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump's failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression."
Mr Trump, who is 74, and Mr Biden, who is 77, are both in the high risk category for coronavirus.
If the Commission on Presidential Debates gets its way, moderator Steve Scully and the town hall participants will gather at the Adrienne Arsht Centre for the Performing Arts in Miami for the October 15 event, while Mr Biden and Mr Trump will be beamed in from different locations.
Mr Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 in a tweet sent last Friday.
Since then, an alarming White House cluster has emerged, with a string of high-profile staffers close to the president also falling ill.
So far, they include the Trumps, senior advisers Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House aide Nick Luna, campaign manager Bill Stepien as well as a string of other employees and close contacts.
In fact, America's ABC News has cited an internal memo which claims the infected "34 White House staffers and other contacts" recently.
Originally published as Donald Trump's fiery debate refusal