Joe Biden said in an NBC town hall Monday night that he was not surprised President Trump contracted COVID-19.

What he's saying: "Quite frankly, I wasn't surprised," the Democratic presidential nominee said when asked by MSNBC's Lester Holt if he was surprised Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.

  • "For the last three months, three times a week, I'm on the telephone and on Zoom with some of the leading immunologists in the nation, and they go through everything that's happening," Biden said.
  • "So the idea that COVID does not spread in proximity when you don't have a mask on, when you're not socially distancing, when there's large groups of people, when you're inside particularly and even when you're outside, that's not surprising" he added.
  • "I would hope that the president having gone through what he went through, and I’m glad he seems to be coming along pretty well, would communicate the right lesson to the American people: Masks matter. These masks, they matter. It matters. It saves lives. It prevents the spread of the disease."

Driving the news: Biden's comments came less than two hours after Trump departed the Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday evening to return to the White House via Marine One following three nights at the hospital for coronavirus treatment.

  • Upon reaching the White House, Trump took off his mask and saluted Marine One as photographers encircled him. He then walked into the White House, still maskless.
  • Biden later posted a video to Twitter contrasting the pair's stance on wearing masks:
Other key town hall takeaways:
  • On last week's presidential debate: Biden said he was "trying to figure out how I could possibly have [Trump] respect the debate, respect the evening, respect the moderator, and get us an opportunity to speak.
    • "The one thing that became absolutely clear... he didn't want to answer any questions. He did not want to talk about substance," Biden said.
    • "It was all invective. It was all personal ... And I did get very frustrated. I did get frustrated. And I should have said, this is a clownish undertaking, instead of calling him a clown."
"I'll be very honest with you, I think it was embarrassing for the nation to see the president of the United States hectoring like he did and everything was about a personal attack."
  • On police reform: "We are going to bring all these interests together, peaceful protesters, police chiefs police officers, police unions, as well as a civil rights groups in the White House and sit down and decide what are the things that need to be done to improve and help police officers," Biden said.
    • "I'm the only one who's talked about increasing police budgets ... In addition to that, I'm also proposing that we spend a significant more money on community policing."
  • On white supremacy: Biden said that one of the reasons he decided to run for president again was due to the "constant dog whistle" coming from Trump and his supporters.
    • Biden pointed to the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed by a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville in 2017: "When a young woman was innocently killed … [Trump] said there are 'very fine people on both sides.' No president has ever said anything remotely like that. So there’s this constant dog whistle and it bothers me a lot."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout. It has also been corrected to reflect Heyer was killed in 2017, not 2018.

Go deeper

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.
Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Biden looks to stem oil "transition" furor amid GOP attacks

Former Vice President Joe Biden. ANGELA WEISS / Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign is looking to blunt attacks in response to his comments in Thursday night's debate about a "transition from the oil industry," as Republicans look to make the remarks a liability in the closing days of the race.

Driving the news: Biden campaign spokesperson Bill Russo, in comments circulated to reporters Friday afternoon, said the former VP "would not get rid of fossil fuels," but wants to end subsidies.