IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Updates and analysis from Day 4 of the Republican National Convention

The convention concluded with President Donald Trump's acceptance speech.
Image: President Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, will be the keynote speakers on the last night of the Republican National Convention on Thursday.
President Trump and his daughter Ivanka will be the keynote speakers on the last night of the Republican National Convention on Thursday.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The final day of the Republican National Convention took place on Thursday, culminating in President Donald Trump's speech accepting the Republican nomination for president.

Other speakers on Thursday included Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and senior adviser, and Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer.

Trump delivered his speech at the White House, a decision that critics have said could be a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in certain political activities. The president and vice president are exempt from the law but other White House employees are not.

Trump accepts nomination for president

President Trump on Thursday accepted the Republican nomination for president.

"My fellow Americans, tonight, with a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States," he said, deviating from prepared remarks that said "proudly accept."

The changed was not unnoticed on Twitter.

Fact check: Ivanka Trump says Trump's actions have cut drug prices. But drug prices have gone up.

“Recently, he took dramatic action cut the cost of prescription drugs despite fielding angry calls from the CEOs of every major pharmaceutical company,” the president's daughter Ivanka Trump said Thursday night during her primetime address. “Now, when we see an attack ad paid for by Big Pharma, my dad smiles and says to me, “You know we’re doing something really right if they’re hitting us so hard.” 

This is misleading. Drug prices have risen during Trump’s administration, and gone up steadily during the pandemic. And while Trump has talked up taking decisive action, his orders remain secret.

Ivanka says Trump’s ‘results speak for themselves’ — and the internet went to town

Ivanka Trump noted in her speech that while some voters may not be too keen on her father’s tweets, “the results speak for themselves.”

Twitter lit up in response.

Needless to say, some felt the results did speak for themselves. But not in a good way.

Case in point: Ivanka Trump highlighting her father’s actions on the coronavirus and the shutting down parts of the economy to combat the pandemic that has killed over 180,000 people in the U.S.

But as some pointed out, Trump was unable to lead a response that curtailed the outbreak while things were shut down, leaving the disease raging well into the summer months.

Fact check: Ivanka Trump mischaracterizes father's use of Defense Production Act

Ivanka Trump, in her Thursday night RNC speech, claimed that her father “rapidly mobilized the full force of government and the private sector to produce ventilators within weeks.”

This is a substantial mischaracterization of what occurred. Trump did mobilize the private sector within weeks, but given how quickly the coronavirus was spreading early in the year, health officials and experts said it was still too long a period for Trump to take action and that doing so sooner could have saved lives.

Ivanka Trump’s remarks about the private sector are a reference to the president's invoking of the Defense Production Act — a 1950 law allowing the president to force U.S. businesses to produce materials in the national defense, such as ventilators and medical supplies for health care workers.

But Trump dragged his feet in actually putting the act into effect.

As NBC News noted in a fact check of remarks Tuesday night by Ivanka Trump’s brother, Donald Trump Jr., the president had said on March 18 that he was going to invoke the DPA. But he waited more than a week to actually invoke it, finally using it on March 27 to force GM to make ventilators

During that key stretch, hospitals and doctors implored the administration to use the DPA to increase the capacity to produce needed equipment. In a March 21 letter to Trump, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association all urged Trump to "immediately use the DPA to increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment that hospitals, health systems, physicians, nurses and all front line providers so desperately need." The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was found on Jan. 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Doctors, public health experts and a prominent Republican governor on the front lines of the pandemic have also sharply criticized how the Trump White House lagged in responding to the coronavirus, including delays in the distribution of ventilators and personal protective equipment.

Undocumented immigrants without health care were some of the “essential workers” felled by COVID-19

Republicans repeated their campaign talking point Thursday night that Democrats want to give health care to immigrants without legal status on Thursday night. But the pandemic has shown some of the consequences of high uninsured rates among people without legal status in the U.S.

Early in the pandemic, meat plants slowed their production and Americans feared meat shortages as workers became ill. Some died

There are an estimated 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The rates of uninsured for health care are high for the population. Not all plant workers are undocumented but the agricultural industry and others are known to rely on undocumented workers and immigrants with legal status. 

Undocumented workers are not eligible for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid or Medicare and most do not have health care coverage through their employers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation

Many forgo health care to avoid exposing their undocumented status or affecting future chances for citizenship. Some states provide health coverage with state funding regardless of status, but others deny health care even to pregnant women. 

Some immigrants get health care through non-profit community clinics, but the clinics usually only provide preventive and primary care. Often undocumented immigrants will only seek care when the situation is dire at more costly emergency rooms.

RNC brags about Trump's record on NYC's public housing

The RNC featured a video focusing on the Trump administration's funding for public housing with several people of color talking about the ways Mayor de Blasio has failed them and how the administration has stepped in to improve public housing projects.

One noteworthy thing here, following the convention's theme of trying to appeal to Black voters, is the way that the feature used the interracial politics among Black and brown people. One woman proclaimed that "illegal immigrants" were being placed in public housing in front of Black Americans who had been on waiting lists for affordable housing for years.

However, according to the organization Justice for Immigrants, only refugees, victims of trafficking, and immigrants admitted for legal residence are eligible for public housing — not undocumented immigrants. If anything, mixed-status housing is permitted, but it still requires at least one family member to be a citizen, or deemed an "eligible immigrant." 

Ironically, though, Trump got his start as a landlord in New York City, where he and his father managed several apartment buildings throughout the boroughs. In the 1970s, early in his career, the Department of Justice investigated the Trumps for unfair housing practices against Black and brown New Yorkers and eventually sued them in 1973 for discriminatory practices. In 2016, Trump said he did not know what was happening at the time, but he and his father were both named as defendants on the lawsuit. The Trumps settled the case without admitting guilt.

Trump has also spoken throughout the summer about his tactics to remove low-income housing from suburbs, usually in tandem with his words blasting protests against racial injustice and inequality. 

Ivanka jokes about Trump's 'communication style.' Not all are laughing.

Fact check: Cotton claims Biden 'sent pallets of cash to the ayatollahs.' Needs context.

This claim, from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., refers to a $400 million payment the Obama administration made to Iran in January 2016 on the same day Iran released several American prisoners and implemented the (since disbanded) nuclear deal. 

That sum was actually part of a $1.7 billion settlement to Iran for a decades-long legal dispute that was before an international tribunal in The Hague, the State Department said at the time. The agency characterized the timing of the payment and the release of the American prisoners as coincidental.

A Wall Street Journal report at the time characterized the payment to Iran as a "secretly organized" airlift of euros, Swiss francs and other currencies given to Tehran. Cotton has been a vocal critic of the payment for years, calling even in 2016 that it "ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.”

Fact check: Ivanka Trump claims Trump built 'most robust testing system in the world.' That's inaccurate.

President Trump built “the most robust testing system in the world,” daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump claimed Thursday night. 

This is inaccurate. Experts say U.S. testing is far too limited to gauge the true size of the country’s uncontrolled and fast-moving outbreak, as high rates of positive tests indicate that many milder cases are going undetected. Meanwhile, manufacturers continue to report shortages of supplies and lab backups leave people waiting weeks for test results. The U.S. has actually begun conducting fewer tests than it was in July, even as the outbreak spreads rapidly.

As White House crowd chants 'four more years,' Biden tweets the country 'can't take' it

  

Biden responds to RNC attacks: 'How safe do you feel in Donald Trump’s America?'

Giuliani warns about NYC crime — but stats paint a different picture

Trump attorney and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani offered a bleak picture of crime in New York, arguing that protests about police violence have led to lawlessness. 

The stats show that violent crime in NYC has been in decline for years. Murders did spike in the first six months of 2020 but remain on pace to be far lower than at the end of Giuliani's time in office.

A view from inside — and outside — the White House grounds

Image: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump pack the South Lawn of the White House for his acceptance speech as the 2020 Republican presidential nominee in Washington
Trump supporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday, the final night of the Republican National Convention.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Image: Protests Held In Washington, DC In Response To Republican National Convention
Demonstrators gather in Black Lives Matter plaza in Washington on Thursday to protest the nomination of President Trump. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

Fact check: Giuliani wrong about 'riots' in 'Democrat' cities

Rudy Giuliani made several wrong, exaggerated or misleading claims about policing and law enforcement in the U.S. during his RNC speech Thursday.

Speaking about the protests sparked across the U.S. in response to the death of a Black man, George Floyd, under the knee of a White Minneapolis police officer, Giuliani said, “Soon protests turned into riots in many other American cities, almost all Democrats."

He blamed the violence on "Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA" who he said "sprang into action" and"hijacked peaceful protest into vicious brutal riots."

He added that, in those riots, "people [were] beaten, shot, and killed. Police officers routinely assaulted, badly beaten, and occasionally murdered.”

This is all a substantial distortion and exaggeration of the facts.

Following Floyd’s death, protests took place in at least 450 cities. As NBC News fact checked Wednesday night, those include large demonstrations in Miami, whose mayor is a registered Republican, and smaller ones in smaller cities and towns in regions supportive of Trump.

Furthermore, the protests in recent months have been largely peaceful. Violent incidents did occur, but many were initiated by outside groups with political agendas

According to multiple reports, including a Washington Post fact check, there were no signs that that antifa was behind violence at these protests. As of earlier this month, federal prosecutors had not been able to link dozens of people arrested in protests in Portland, Ore., to antifa.

In fact, in at least one instance where a police officer was killed during a protest, the suspect was actually aligned with a far-right extremist group. In Oakland, Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo — a member of the “boogaloo,” an online extremist group with violent views — is accused of killing a federal officer. Authorities have said he was using nearby peaceful protests as cover.

And during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, two people were killed and another was injured when someone opened fire.

Police have arrested 17-year-old Illinois resident Kyle Rittenhouse on a first-degree intentional murder charge in connection with those shootings. NBC News has reported that Rittenhouse had promoted "Blue Lives Matter" online.

Giuliani calls on Trump to ‘Make our nation safe again’

Rudy Giuliani delivered a forceful speech condemning violence in American cities and ended his speech by calling on Trump to "make our nation safe again" — a puzzling pitch for a president who has led the country during such unrest.

Giuliani also slammed Joe Biden, calling him a “Trojan Horse with Bernie, AOC, Pelosi, Black Lives Matter and his party’s entire left wing hidden inside his body just waiting to execute their pro-criminal, anti-police policies.”

“It is clear that a vote for Biden and the Democrats creates the risk that you will bring this lawlessness to your city, town or suburb,” he said. “It can come to where you live.”

While railing against the Black Lives Matter group, Giuliani paid tribute to victims of violence and said that "all Black Lives Matter" to Republicans.

In conclusion, Giuliani said, “Mr. President, make our nation safe again."

Protesters gather outside the White House ahead of Trump speech

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House on Thursday night shortly before President Trump was set to accept the Republican nomination on the South Lawn.

The demonstration followed calls on social media for protesters to try disrupt the president's outdoor speech by making lots of noise. Federal officials erected extra fencing around the White House earlier this week in an apparent bid to keep protesters farther away.

Reporters at the protest site described the mood as festive ahead of the speech, and said there was a police presence, but no sign of a large federal response.

Read more here.

Fact check: Giuliani mischaracterizes legislative efforts for police reform

Rudy Giuliani claimed in his RNC speech Thursday that, following George Floyd’s death, “it seemed, for a few brief shining moments, Democrat and Republican leaders would come together with a unified proposal to reduce police misconduct.”

He added that it didn’t move forward because “this possibility was very dangerous to the left.”

There is no evidence that Democrats and Republicans ever came anywhere close to reaching any kind of bipartisan deal on police reform after Floyd, a Black man, died under the knee of a white police officer. And the pressure to not move forward on a bill came from the White House, not the progressive wing of the party.

On the contrary, the House, in which the Democratic Party holds the majority, passed a sweeping police reform bill in late June largely along party lines to address systemic racism and police brutality.

The legislation would ban all neck restraints, including chokeholds and the kind used on Floyd by a then-Minneapolis police officer, as well as no-knock warrants in drug cases, as was used in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.

The legislation would also require police departments to send data on the use of force to the federal government and create a grant program that would allow state attorneys general to create an independent process to investigate misconduct or excessive use of force. The bill would also make it easier for people to recover damages when police departments violate their civil rights, and, for the first time, make lynching a federal hate crime.

Trump threatened to veto the measure if it passed the Republican-controlled Senate.

Senate Republicans had supported their own, narrower, bill, which wouldn't ban chokeholds but would withhold federal funding from police departments that don't stop using the potentially deadly technique.

The Republican bill would collect data on entries using "no-knock" warrants instead of banning them.

And while the Democratic bill would create a national registry for complaints and disciplinary records of officers and also require reporting on use-of-force incidents, the GOP measure would collect data only when police officers use force that results in serious injury or death.

How Alice Marie Johnson became of symbol of Trump’s criminal justice reform agenda

Two years ago, reality star Kim Kardashian West personally lobbied the president in an Oval Office meeting to intervene on behalf of Alice Marie Johnson. 

Johnson’s story went viral after she did an interview from inside of an Alabama federal prison in which she was serving a life sentence without parole for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense.

In that video, Johnson shared the details of her story.

Johnson had been in federal lockup for more than 21 years after being found guilty in connection to a drug trafficking conspiracy, and she would likely have died behind bars without the president's clemency. She was one of the thousands of Americans serving life sentences for nonviolent offenses, according to a 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, the vast majority of whom are there on drug crimes.

Since her sentence was commuted by Trump in June 2018, she has consistently thanked Kardashian West and the president for her release — and Trump has also used her story as he advocates from criminal justice reform. In her speech on Thursday, she did explicitly not urge Americans to re-elect the president, but praised and thanked him for his actions on criminal justice. 

"I pray that you will not just hear this message, but that you will be inspired by my story and your compassion will lead you to take action for those who are forgotten. That's what our president, Donald Trump did for me," she said. "And for that, I will be forever grateful. God bless you. God bless President Trump, and God bless America." 

RNC airs video clip from Barcelona, calls it 'Biden’s America'

The Republican National Convention aired a video on Monday decrying U.S. protests and citing potential chaos in the streets if Joe Biden is elected president.

The video, which has since been posted on President Trump’s official YouTube account, is titled “Catalina and Madeline” and features two Chicago-area sisters, Catalina and Madeline Lauf, who discuss their conservative beliefs and their support for the president.

“This is a taste of Biden’s America,” one of the sisters narrates as photos and videos of protests flash on screen. “The rioting, the crime. Freedom is at stake now and this is going to be the most important election of our lifetime.”

While the imagery appears to allude to the recent American protests after the fatal encounter of George Floyd with the Minneapolis police in May, one part of the video is from an entirely different protest, a different country and a different year.

NBC News was able to identify that a portion of the video was in fact taken during Catalonia independence protests in October 2019 and not during recent protests in the United States over racial injustice and police brutality. Catalonian public broadcaster, CCA, was first to report on the misinformation on August 25.

The Trump campaign and the RNC did not immediately respond to NBC News' requests for comment.

Fact check: Cotton says Biden 'opposed the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.' This is misleading.

This is misleading. Biden has offered multiple versions of the advice he provided to Obama regarding whether the then-president should move forward the 2011 mission that ultimately killed bin Laden.

In 2012, Biden revealed what he told Obama during a Situation Room meeting where top administration officials were going around the room offering their advice president should or shouldn’t move forward.

"He got to me. He said, 'Joe, what do you think?' And I said, 'You know, I didn't know we had so many economists around the table.' I said, 'We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is, don't go. We have to do two more things to see if he's there,'" Biden said, according to reports at the time.

Five months later, he told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he’d privately told Obama after that meeting had ended to, “Follow your instincts, Mr. President” and that Biden had “wanted him to take one more day to do one more test to see if he was there.”

He further leaned into that version in a 2015 interview, saying “that I thought he should go, but follow his own instincts.” Biden then contradicted his initial claims, saying, “imagine if I had said in front of everyone, 'Don't go,' or 'Go,' and his decision was a different decision. It undercuts that relationship.” 

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, in her 2014 book “Hard Choices,” wrote that Biden “remained skeptical” about the raid, while Gates in his 2014 book, wrote that he and Biden were both “skeptics.” 

Fact check: Cotton accurately quotes former Obama defense secretary on Biden

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., leveled several accusations against Joe Biden, mostly regarding his views and actions as vice president on foreign policy. This one, about what a former defense secretary had to say about Biden's judgment, is accurate. 

Cotton said that “Barack Obama's own secretary of defense said Joe Biden has been wrong on nearly every major national security decision over the past four decades.”

This is true. Robert Gates, who served as President Obama’s secretary of defense for more than two years, wrote in his 2014 memoir, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary At War,” that Biden had “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."

Ben Carson discusses Jacob Blake, says Trump isn't racist

Ben Carson made what appeared to be the first mention of Jacob Blake, the Wisconsin man shot seven times by police, at the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

"Before I begin, I’d like to say that our hearts go out to the Blake family,” Carson said. “The images everyone has seen from this tragic event in Kenosha are heart-wrenching. This action deserves a serene response, one that steers away from the destruction of a community that molded Jacob and his family into the kind of man his family and friends know today."

“In order to succeed in change, we must first come together in love of our fellow citizens,” he continued. “It may be hard to believe now, but indeed our country, our world, have been through worse and history reminds us that necessary change comes through hope and love, not senseless and destructive violence.”

Carson then transitioned his speech into pitching Trump as not racist, echoing several other speakers of color at the Republican convention.

NYPD union boss Pat Lynch underscores Trump’s law and order message

Pat Lynch is the president of the Police Benevolent Association, a union with 50,000 active and retired NYPD officers. While it is unusual for him to speak at a political convention, he has been a bullhorn for law enforcement in New York City and around the country, particularly as officers violently clashed with protesters calling for defunding the police.

Lynch has been at loggerheads with the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, and has generated controversy over the years, such as fiercely opposing the firing of the officer who killed Eric Garner. 

His RNC speech was similar to Trump’s rhetoric about Democratic-run cities. 

“The Democrats have walked away from us. They have walked away from police officers and they've walked away from the innocent people we protect,” Lynch said. “Democratic politicians have surrendered our streets and our institutions. The loudest voices have taken control, and our so-called leaders are scrambling to catch up with them.”

It’s worth noting that, according to The New York Times, major crimes have not risen in NYC and the paper’s analysis of city data shows that the recent spike in shootings is largely because of the number of arrests for gun crimes has sharply decreased.

RNC goes after Bill de Blasio. He’s not on the ballot and already has low approval ratings

The RNC played a montage fearing residents and tenant leaders from New York City’s House Authority buildings, which houses low-income New Yorkers. 

The residents and video slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is not on the Democratic ticket. What’s more, he was not invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention. Since the start of the pandemic and racial unrest, de Blasio has been routinely criticized by both conservatives and progressives. 

A Change Research poll in March put him at a 40 percent approval rating among the city’s residents.

Fox News runs Biden ad during Scavino speech

Fox News cut out of Dan Scavino's speech to show a new Joe Biden ad. 

The two-minute ad promotes Biden as a president who would move fast, particularly on the coronavirus epidemic.

UFC president praises task force that rarely met

Wife of retired police captain killed in George Floyd protests who gave emotional plea is exploiting his death, daughters say

The daughters of David Dorn, a retired police captain who was shot and killed outside a burglarized St. Louis pawn shop during protests stemming from George Floyd's death, told The St. Louis American that his widow is exploiting his death to bolster President Trump’s agenda. 

“We know his wife is a Trump supporter, but he was not,” Debra White, his daughter, told the paper, referring to his widow, St. Louis Police Sgt. Ann Dorn. “He frequently said they were not able to talk about politics, because they were at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I know he would not want his legacy to be for his death to be used to further Trump’s law-and-order agenda.”

Trump has threatened protesters and often muddled the line between those peacefully demonstrating and those who have exploited the protests.

His daughters told the paper that although their father loved being a police officer and knew Trump supported law enforcement, he was still aware of institutionalized bias as a Black man. 

“His passion for law enforcement ran deep,” said his daughter Lisa Dorn. “He was blue through and through, but he also was a man, a Black man, and he knew some not so good things come out of police departments. He tried to make a difference as much as he could, but he was part of a system with systematic racism.”

Ann Dorn, in her speech, gave an emotional plea for peace while talking about her late husband, and implored law enforcement agencies to accept federal help from Trump in the wake of protests. 

"We must heal before we can affect change. But we cannot heal amid devastation and chaos. President Trump knows we need more David's in our communities, not fewer," she said. "We need to come together in peace. And remember that every life is precious."

 

RNC plays video of younger voters denouncing liberalism

A video of unidentified younger voters played at the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

The video featured the voters denouncing liberalism, with some of them saying they had once believed in some of the tenets of the ideology but now support Trump instead.

It’s another example of Trump reaching out to disaffected progressive voters, some of whom voted for him in 2016. 

"The last time we had a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters," Trump said earlier this year. "I think if they take it away from him like they did the last time, I really believe you're going to have a very riotous time in the Democrat Party."

Sen. Bernie Sanders has implored his supporters not to turn against the Democratic party despite his losing the nomination.

At last week's Democratic convention, Sanders said, "My friends, I say to you, to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary, and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake."

RNC features a sports segment amid historic walkouts

One of the many video segments during the fourth and final night of the convention touched on American sports. But it comes at a historic moment.

The NBA is in the midst of a player walkout over police violence, one that has also reached Major League Baseball and the NHL. President Trump earlier on Thursday took a jab at the NBA, claiming its ratings were down. 

It's an odd juxtaposition and a reminder that while the RNC has sought to draw connections between Trump and parts of American culture, many parts of that culture do not feel particularly connected to Trump.

'That doesn't look like America in 2020': Mary Trump blasts the packed crowd at the White House

 

Fact check: McConnell claims Dems want to defund police, give free health to undocumented immigrants

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said during his RNC speech Thursday that Democrats “want to defund the police” and that they “want free health care for illegal immigrants.”

The first claim is misleading, and the second false. Though some progressives within the Democratic Party do support calls to "defund the police," the official Democratic Party platform, approved last week, includes no reference to it. And, as NBC News has pointed out on the the first, second and third nights of the RNC, Joe Biden, the party's nominee, does not support defunding the police. He has explicitly said so on multiple occasions. (He does support various measures of reform.)

NBC News has an explainer on the different — and sometimes overlapping — proposals from activists on how to address police violence here.

Additionally, while some on the left have called for free health care for undocumented immigrants, Biden has not. He supports allowing undocumented immigrants to purchase health care with their own money, they would not be eligible for taxpayer-funded subsidies. The official Democratic Party platform calls for “extending Affordable Care Act coverage to Dreamers, and working with Congress to lift the five-year waiting period for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility for low-income, lawfully present immigrants.” 

McConnell also said Democrats want to make Washington, D.C., “America’s 51st state.”

This is true. Biden supports this and the Democrats included the stance in their official party platform.

McConnell talks up his blocking of Democratic legislation

Mitch McConnell pitched Republican control of the Senate as a “firewall” against House Democrats’ legislative aims in a speech before the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

McConnell, who has embraced himself as the “grim reaper” of Democratic legislation, blocking one Democratic initiative after another since they regained control of the House in early 2019, said he is “immensely proud of the work the Republican Senate has done.”

“We are the firewall against Nancy Pelosi’s agenda,” he said. “Like President Trump, we won’t be bullied by a liberal media intent on destroying America’s institutions. We will stand our post on behalf of the millions of Americans whose stories aren’t told in today’s newspapers. Whose struggles are just as real. We will continue to support American families as we defeat the coronavirus and return our economy to the envy of the world.”

Ja'Ron Smith, one of the top Black officials in the White House, touts Trump's empathy

Ja’Ron Smith, an assistant to the president and one of the top senior officials in the administration who is Black, gave a speech touting Trump’s empathy on the final night of the RNC. 

“In the wake of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and LeGend Taliferro, a moment of national racial consciousness. I have seen his true conscience. I just wish everyone could see the deep empathy he shows to families whose loved ones were killed in senseless violence,” he said. 

However, during the week of the RNC, the racial unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin prompted by the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, has barely been mentioned. Also, no mention of the continued unrest prompted by the killing of two people allegedly by a 17-year-old white Trump supporter. 

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also said Thursday no one from the White House has spoken to Blake’s family, but Meadows reached out to the family’s pastor and conveyed the message of the president’s sympathies.

Huge crowds gather to both watch and protest Trump speech

Image: Republicans Hold Virtual 2020 National Convention
Guests gather to watch President Donald Trump deliver his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 27, 2020.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Image: US-POLITICS-VOTE-REPUBLICANS-PROTEST
Demonstrators rally to protest President Donald Trump's acceptance of the Republican National Convention nomination at Black Lives Matter plaza across from the White House on Aug. 27, 2020.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images

Ex-Democrat Van Drew, who voted against Trump's impeachment, makes RNC debut

Jeff Van Drew, the New Jersey Republican who changed his party affiliation after voting against Donald Trump’s impeachment, will speak at the Republican convention on Thursday.

Van Drew joins a limited number of Democrats or former Democrats who spoke on Trump’s behalf at his re-nominating convention. It provides a contrast with Biden, who featured higher-profile Republicans speaking at his event.

Meanwhile, scores of former Republican administration officials have endorsed Biden’s campaign, including dozens of former George W. Bush staffers who announced their intent to back Biden this week.

There’s also a small group of former Trump administration officials who worked in the Department of Homeland Security who have chosen to back Biden.

But Van Drew’s speech provides Trump a lane to show the opposite effect of his presidency on some Democrats. Trump made a big show of Van Drew switching parties during the impeachment process and hosted him at the White House for a meeting.

Giuliani tells NBC News he will attack Biden on police brutality protests

Rudy Giuliani, who has served as Donald Trump’s lawyer and a top confidant, in his speech Thursday night will attack Joe Biden over violence in U.S. cities over the summer.

Giuliani’s speech will fall in line with what has been the main theme of Trump’s convention — hammering Biden over protests against police brutality, some of which have led to violence or vandalism. Just this week, a pro-police sympathizer allegedly shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times by police.

"Biden and his fellow Democrats were widely criticized for not speaking up about the out-of-control violence plaguing Democrat cities in our country," Giuliani told NBC News in a text message. "You would expect they would feel obligated to suggest some policy changes. Yet they said nothing about the alarming growth of murder and riots and attempts to end policing."

“Their silence was so deafening that it reveals an acceptance of this violence because they will accept anything they hope will defeat President Donald Trump,” he added.

Biden, who has criticized the violence, addressed the attacks on Thursday, telling MSNBC Trump "views this as a political benefit” and that the president is "rooting for more violence, not less."

In a subsequent statement, Biden said, "Last night, Vice President Mike Pence stood before America and with a straight face said, 'You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.' His proof? The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America."

Biden’s comments followed countless speeches at the RNC this week hitting him over the unrest. Earlier Thursday, departing White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said, "the more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who's best on public safety."

COVID tests, masks not required for Trump speech

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Thursday that "a number of" GOP convention guests at the White House tonight will have been tested for COVID-19 but that "you make choices individually." 

"I think it's a pretty safe environment, given the circumstances," Meadows said. "I'm not worried about that based on the protocols that we have in place."

Chairs set up on the lawn ahead of the speech were well under 6 feet apart, flouting local social distancing guidelines. With a crowd of more than 1,000 people, tonight's speech appears to be the largest non-socially-distanced White House event in the COVID era. The crowd is made up of a mix of GOP lawmakers, delegates, friends, family and donors from all over the country — some of whom have flown in. 

Masks were not required.

White House or Trump rally?

The crowded scene on the White House's South Lawn for Trump's speech

The setup ahead of President Donald Trumps speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 27, 2020
The setup ahead of President Donald Trumps speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 27, 2020NBC News

 

Biden says he's returning to the physical campaign trail

Joe Biden said Thursday that he plans on returning to the real-life campaign trail after Labor Day.

At a virtual fundraiser with Illinois attorneys, Biden was asked if he planned to resume physical campaigning in battleground states.

Biden said he plans to do so, but "without jeopardizing or violating state rules about how many people can in fact assemble. One of the things we’re thinking about is I’m going to be going up into Wisconsin, and Minnesota, spending time in Pennsylvania, out in Arizona."

"We’re going to do it in a way that is totally consistent with being responsible, unlike what this guy’s doing," he said, referring to the president's handling of the coronavirus. "He’s totally irresponsible."

He added that he's missed being on the trail — and acknowledged he has to make changes to his style. 

“I’m a tactile politician. I really miss being able to, you know, grab hands, shake hands. You can’t do that now," he said.

Setting the stage for a speech topic?

Demonstrators rally to protest Trump's speech

Image: US-POLITICS-VOTE-REPUBLICANS-PROTEST
Demonstrators rally to protest President Donald Trump's acceptance of the Republican National Convention nomination at Black Lives Matter plaza across from the White House on Aug. 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images

Some in White House audience for Trump's speech already waiting to get in

 

TV viewership dips on RNC's Night 3

About 17.3 million people tuned in for Night 3 of the RNC, a decline compared to the second night of the convention and about the same as the first night, according to data released by media measurement company Nielsen.

Night 3 of the Democratic convention drew about 22.8 million viewers. 

The downtick happened during a busy news day — an NBA player walkout, a hurricane barreling toward Louisiana, and the ongoing unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin — that partially drowned out the convention, which Vice President Mike Pence headlined.

The Nielsen data does not take into account people who watched some or all of the convention online. Most major broadcast networks and many other media companies have livestreamed the conventions on various platforms.

But the viewership is still a significant drop off compared to 2016, when Night 3 drew 23.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Kamala Harris, citing 'sickening' Blake shooting, pledges to tackle police reform

A Joe Biden administration would address systemic racism and tackle police reform, Sen. Kamala Harris said Thursday, invoking the “sickening” shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin as further evidence of the need to address racial injustice in the U.S.

“The reality is that the life of a Black person in America has never been treated as fully human. And we have yet to fulfill that promise of equal justice under the law,” Harris said. “We will only achieve that when we finally come together to pass meaningful police reform and broader criminal justice reform and acknowledge, yes, acknowledge, systemic racism.”

Harris spoke hours before President Trump is set to formally accept his party's nomination for re-election at the final night of the Republican National Convention, pre-emptively criticizing the president for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Instead of rising to meet the most difficult moment of his presidency, he froze. He was scared. He was petty and vindictive,” Harris said.

Read more here.

Notre Dame disavows former coach's attacks on Biden's religion

The president of the University of Notre Dame disavowed attacks on Joe Biden made by the school's former football coach, Lou Holtz, at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday.

"While Coach Lou Holtz is a former coach at Notre Dame, his use of the university’s name at the Republican National Convention must not be taken to imply that the university endorses his views, any candidate or any political party," Rev. John I. Jenkins said in a statement.

"Moreover, we Catholics should remind ourselves that while we may judge the objective moral quality of another’s actions, we must never question the sincerity of another’s faith, which is due to the mysterious working of grace in that person’s heart," he continued. "In this fractious time, let us remember that our highest calling is to love."

In his speech at the convention, Holtz praised President Trump and called Biden a "Catholic in name only."

Asked about the remarks on Thursday in an interview with CNN, Biden asked, “When’s the last time [Trump] darkened the doorway of a church?"

5 things to watch for on Night 4 of the RNC

President Trump has had nearly four years in office to sell his performance to the American people. So far, polls suggest he has yet to make the sale: A majority of Americans disapprove of the job he's done, and he has consistently trailed Joe Biden in general election surveys this year.

So what can he say on the final night of the Republican National Convention to change those attitudes and convince Americans he deserves four more years in office? Republican strategists say they are looking for him to give a vision of what he would do in a second term — an area he has struggled to define — and how that would contrast with a Biden presidency.

Whatever message Trump delivers on the final night of the gathering, he will be competing for attention with a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall Thursday morning.

Here’s what to watch for on the RNC's fourth and final night.

Trump to attack Biden as 'extreme' in RNC speech

President Trump will focus his Republican National Convention speech Thursday on attacking Joe Biden, according to excerpts of his address.

“At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas," Trump will say, according to excerpts of the speech from his campaign.

“We have spent the last four years reversing the damage Joe Biden inflicted over the last 47 years. At the Democrat convention, you barely heard a word about their agenda. But that's not because they don't have one. It's because their agenda is the most extreme set of proposals ever put forward by a major party nominee."

Read more about Trump's speech tonight here.

Biden says Trump is ‘rooting for more violence, not less’

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden said Thursday that President Donald Trump is "rooting for more violence, not less" because he thinks it benefits him politically.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee reacted to Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night in which he said that people “won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

Biden added about Trump, “He views this as a political benefit to him, you know. He's rooting for more violence, not less, and it's clear about that. And what's he doing, he's kept pouring gasoline on the fire.”

Read what else Biden said about Trump.

Pelosi says Biden shouldn't debate Trump: 'I wouldn't legitimize a conversation with him'

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that she doesn’t think Joe Biden should debate President Donald Trump in the three scheduled this fall ahead of the election because she said Trump will “probably act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency.”

Pelosi volunteered her opinion at a weekly news conference at the Capitol during which she also said that if Biden wins the White House and Democrats retain control of the House, they will have the ability to expose Trump’s tax returns that he has refused for years to release.

“Don't tell anybody who told you this — especially don't tell Joe Biden — I don't think that there should be any debates,” she said. “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data and facts. I wouldn't legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States.”

Read more on what Pelosi said.

Hundreds of former aides to George W. Bush, John McCain endorse Biden for president

WASHINGTON — Several hundred former aides to President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain announced Thursday that they are endorsing Joe Biden for president.

The statements of support for the Democratic nominee come as President Donald Trump prepares to accept his party's nomination on the final night of the Republican National Convention.

A political action committee, 43 Alumni for Biden, that launched last month posted a list of nearly 300 members of the Bush administration or campaigns who are publicly backing Biden. The names range from members of the Cabinet, including former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, to ambassadors, to White House and advance staffers.

Meanwhile, more than 100 former staff of McCain's congressional offices and campaigns also endorsed Biden for president.

Read more on the endorsements.

Harris speech will 'prosecute the case against Trump,' aide says

Just hours before Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech tonight, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala Harris, is expected to unleash her harshest criticism yet of the president and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“She will prosecute the case against Trump,” one Harris aide told NBC News.

Harris will speak at 3 p.m. in Washington “on President Trump's failures to contain COVID-19 and protect working families from the economic fallout” and the “Biden-Harris plan to contain COVID-19 and build a different path forward in America,” according to a press release.

 

Harris has done some virtual campaign events but this will be her first public appearance since the Democratic convention. The campaign is framing this as a response to the RNC and a prebuttal of the president. She isn’t taking questions afterward and neither she nor Biden have traveled anywhere since she was named his running mate in contrast to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who have crisscrossed the country over the same period.

The Democrats had previewed a robust counterprogramming effort this week, and while some top surrogates have held phone calls and briefings with reporters, so far their efforts have failed to break through, particularly against the backdrop of another Black man being shot and killed by police, this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Hurricane Laura. Harris will “address Kenosha with emphasis,” an aide said.

Harris is also expected to focus on Biden’s plan for fighting COVID-19 by increasing rapid tests and imposing a mask mandate, and to excoriate Trump for his handling of the pandemic.

ANALYSIS: Pence is afraid that Biden doesn't scare voters

WASHINGTON — The only things Americans have to fear, Vice President Mike Pence suggested Wednesday, are their neighbors and his out-of-power predecessor.

"Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to unsafe streets and violence in America's cities," Pence said on the third night of the Republican National Convention. "The hard truth is, you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America."

Pence's tack reflects a larger Republican strategy for the convention and the broader Trump re-election campaign that tries to focus voters on a generic fear of the unknown rather than problems at hand. It is, of course, Trump and Pence who have presided over the coronavirus crisis and its devastating impact on the economy, the civil unrest in the wake of police killings of Black men, women and children, and the emboldening of white supremacist militia groups.

Read more of Jonathan Allen’s analysis of Day 3 of the RNC here.

FIRST READ: Real world chaos undercuts Trump's convention message

WASHINGTON — For most of this year, the events of 2020 have overshadowed the actual presidential campaign. And it’s happening again — as the Republican convention concludes and with 68 days until Election Day.

A powerful hurricane has slammed into the Louisiana-Texas Gulf Coast. The shooting of Jacob Blake by police has resulted in unrest, further violence and the arrest of a 17-year-old charged with murder during the protests. Also because of the Blake shooting, professional athletes — from the NBA and WNBA, to Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and tennis star Naomi Osaka — walked off their respective courts and playing fields.

Two things can be true at the same time. One, this presidential election is so consequential, as Democrats and Republicans continue to remind us. And two, the actual campaigns — whether it’s the conventions or the limited campaign activity — seem so small compared with everything else.

Read more of Thursday's First Take here.

5 takeaways from the RNC, Night 3

On the third night of their national convention, Republicans warned "you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America" while largely ignoring that more than 1,000 people are dying every day on average of the coronavirus pandemic.

Vice President Mike Pence joined other speakers in suggesting Trump is the only thing standing between good, peaceable citizens and violent mobs, rampant abortion and the end of America as we know it.

RNC highlights from Night 3

Aug. 27, 202004:47

"Keep America America," said Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law. "Make America Great Again — again," Pence added.

Here are five takeaways from the third night of the RNC.

Fact check: Night 3 of the Republican National Convention

Night 3 of the Republican National Convention featured a number of elected officials, second lady Karen Pence and others who made the case for President Donald Trump's re-election during a program focused on "law and order" as protests grow over the police shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin.

Vice President Mike Pence also accepted his renomination with a speech praising Trump for his leadership, but he frequently distorted the facts.

Read our real-time fact-check.

Praising police, Mike Pence at RNC says 'you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America'

WASHINGTON — Driving President Donald Trump's "law and order" message, Vice President Mike Pence praised law enforcement on the third night of the Republican convention Wednesday against the backdrop of protests sparked by a police officer shooting a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"Law and order are on the ballot," Pence continued. "The choice in this election is whether America remains America.”

The third night of the RNC — the traditional political pep rally that Trump is hoping will boost his flagging re-election campaign — was held as the country faces turmoil.

A teenager was arrested Wednesday for fatally shooting protesters in Wisconsin demonstrating against the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man. The NBA postponed playoff games in response to Blake’s shooting. Texas and Louisiana braced for a catastrophic hurricane. Deadly wildfires continued to burn in Northern California. All while the coronavirus death toll rapidly nears 200,000.

Read more about the third night of the RNC here.