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Stephanopoulos gives debate advice, urges CNN to grill Trump about 2020 election during upcoming debate

June 11, 2024

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos advised CNN that former President Trump should be confronted with whether he believes in the results of the 2020 election during the first upcoming presidential debate. 

When asked by CNN host Abby Phillip on Monday night what the “most important question” for both candidates should be in the June 27 debate moderated by the network, Stephanopoulos responded that it should be “very simple.”

“Who won the last election?” he said. “Let’s discuss and debate.” 


Stephanopoulos said that he has made it a “point” that if he is speaking with a candidate or a politician who won’t accept that the 2020 election was completely legitimate, then he will not “go on to other issues.” 

“I’m not going to participate in some kind of a sham where you somehow equate the legitimacy of an election or the peaceful transfer of power with a debate over tax cuts or environmental regulation,” he explained. “If you can’t pass that fundamental threshold of saying, ‘yes the last election was not stolen, two, ’I will abide by the results of the next election,’ then I think that’s all voters and viewers need to know.”

“If you’re willing to lie about something as big as that, why should anything else they want to talk about be given any credence?” Stephanopoulos said. “That’s an absolutely fundamental issue that people should be confronted with when they make their choice in November.”


The debate between Trump and President Biden will be a “real test” as both candidates will be speaking “in front of 140 million people,” Stephanopoulos said, adding that Biden also has questions to answer from voters.

“Certainly, the Biden campaign is going to have to address voters’ concerns about the economy, voters’ concerns about inflation, those are important as well, but it is fundamental … the very question of whether or not you accept election results, whether you accept the peaceful transfer of power,” he said. 

Stephanopoulos warned that Trump should be taken seriously for campaign promises that he has made about his second term. 

The ABC host, who worked as a top aide to President Bill Clinton, has taken to offering stern, on-air editorials about the election’s stakes in recent editions of the Sunday show “This Week.” In April, he warned against treating the election like a “normal” campaign, and last week he said the Trump guilty verdict in his New York trial presented voters with a stark choice about whether they wanted to be led by a convicted felon.

CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate the upcoming debate, the first of two this year agreed to by the presumptive nominees.

During a recent interview, Stephanopoulos claimed it is irresponsible for media outlets to air live television interviews with Trump, calling it “journalistic malpractice.”

The Trump campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Fox News’ Gabriel Hays contributed to this report. 

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