By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Democratic nominee Joe Biden sought to cast President Donald Trump as subservient to Russia's leader during Tuesday night's debate as the former vice president maintained he stood up to Vladimir Putin during his time in office.
"The fact is I have gone head to head with Putin and made it clear to him we aren't going to take any of his stuff," Biden said. "He’s Putin’s puppy. He still refuses to even say anything to Putin about the bounty on the heads of American soldiers."
Biden was referring to an intelligence report that suggests Russia's main intelligence agency, the GRU, offered to pay the Taliban bounties for killing American service members. The assessment was first reported by The New York Times, but some, including the president, have said it was inconclusive.
The former vice president made the charge during what was an admittedly chaotic debate that repeatedly broke down as the candidates shouted and spoke over one another.
The clashes prompted moderator Chris Wallace to castigate Trump, whom he said interrupted Biden far more frequently during the night's debate than the vice president did the incumbent.
"Mr. President, please stop,” Wallace said during one of dozens of times the president interrupted Biden. "The country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I am appealing to you, sir, to do that."
Trump and Biden are expected to again take to the debate stage Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 in the final two presidential debates ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3.