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Debate commission adopts new rules to silence Trump, Biden microphones

This combination of photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 29, 2020. A staggering 97 percent of the jokes Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon told about the candidates in September targeted President Donald Trump, a study released Monday found. That's 455 jokes about Trump, 14 about Democrat Joe Biden, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

PHOENIX — The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced new rules on Monday for the second and final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Trump and Biden will have their microphones cut off in Thursday’s debate while their rival delivers their opening two-minute answer to each of the debate topics.

The 90-minute debate is divided into six 15-minute segments, with each candidate granted two minutes to deliver uninterrupted remarks before proceeding to an open debate.

The open discussion portion of the debate will not feature a mute button, but interruptions by either candidate will count toward their time in the second and final debate Thursday.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien says Trump “is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate.”

The Biden campaign did not immediately comment on the new rule.

Monday’s rule change comes three weeks after a chaotic opening faceoff between the two presidential contenders that featured frequent interruptions.

The commission has faced pressure from the Trump campaign to avoid changing the rules, while Biden’s team was hoping for a more ordered debate. In a statement, the commission said it “had determined that it is appropriate to adopt measures intended to promote adherence to agreed upon rules and inappropriate to make changes to those rules.”

Trump and Biden were scheduled to participate in a a debate last week, but the commission wanted to host it virtually following the president’s coronavirus diagnosis. The debate was ultimately scrapped and the candidates held dueling town halls instead where Biden answered questions from voters in Philadelphia while Trump talked with constitutes in Miami.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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