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Updates and analysis from Day 2 of the Republican National Convention

First lady Melania Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Eric and Tiffany Trump spoke on Tuesday
Image: First lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on a background of stage lights and dark red curtains.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The Republican National Convention continued Tuesday with speeches from first lady Melania Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and two of Trump's children.

Melania Trump headlined Tuesday night's line-up with a speech from the White House, where she is reflected on her time as first lady, making the case why her husband deserves another four years.

Pompeo, meanwhile, addressed the convention from Jerusalem, a move that has drawn fire from diplomats and breaks with long-standing tradition aimed at keeping U.S. foreign policy separate from domestic politics.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading RNC news from this week.

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827d ago / 5:08 AM UTC

RNC highlights from Night 2

Aug. 26, 202003:54
827d ago / 3:46 AM UTC

Fact check: Pompeo claims Trump 'ended ridiculously unfair trade deals with China.' Did he?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday in his RNC speech that Trump “ended ridiculously unfair trade deals with China that punched a hole in our economy.”

This claim is exaggerated. 

Trump and China signed phase one of a hard-fought trade deal only months ago in January, and questions have remained among U.S. officials and policy watchers since over whether China has held up its end of the deal so far. 

The deal reached in January capped a bitter 18-month battle between the world's two largest economies that had roiled markets and slowed economic growth worldwide.

The $200 billion trade deal includes "an average" of $40 billion a year for the next two years in agricultural purchase targets from the Chinese; a pledge to purchase $77.8 billion more in U.S. manufactured goods, such as cars, aircraft and farm machinery; $52.4 billion in U.S. oil and gas purchases; $37.9 billion in financial and other services; and increased protections for U.S. intellectual property.

The deal, however, didn’t include arrangements about other substantial disputes between the nations, including enforcement of forced technology transfer and China's subsidies of competitive industries. Those thornier issues were relegated to the second phase of the trade deal, which is not likely to be resolved until after the U.S. presidential election.

 

827d ago / 3:38 AM UTC
827d ago / 3:35 AM UTC

Melania Trump's speech strikes decidedly different tone on pandemic and race than her husband's

Melania Trump used her keynote speech at the Republican National Convention to strike a decidedly different tone than her husband or a number of other prominent speakers who preceded her.

It began with the coronavirus pandemic, of which she expressed her “deepest sympathy ... to everyone who has lost a loved one.” More than 800,000 have died globally with nearly 180,000 of those deaths in the U.S.

“My prayers are with those who are ill or suffering,” she said. “I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone.”

That came after Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, hours earlier referred to the pandemic in the past tense.

While prior speakers like Nikki Haley said America is not racist, the first lady said the racial unrest in the country speaks to “a harsh reality” in the country.

“We are not proud of parts of our history,” she said, adding, “I urge people to come together: stop the violence and looting, though done in the name of justice. Never judge anyone based on the color of their skin."

Later, she said she did not want to spend time “attacking the other side” because that “only serves to divide the country further.”

Certainly, that was a turn from prior RNC speakers, like Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who said no one in the country will be safe if Joe Biden wins.

On her husband, the first lady said, “Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking.”

827d ago / 3:33 AM UTC
827d ago / 3:15 AM UTC

Melania touts beauty of Africa in RNC speech. Trump had a different description.

During her headlining speech at the RNC Tuesday night, Melania Trump spoke warmly of her visit to several African countries in 2018.

She called it a “vast and beautiful” continent in which she visited various countries, such as Ghana, and learned about the cultures and also the slave trade. This is, of course, in contrast with her husband.  The president has referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries" during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House in 2018. 

Later in her speech, the first lady also touched on the current protests surrounding racial injustice. 

"It's a harsh reality, we are not proud of parts of our history," she said. The line was a notable contrast to her husband, a strong critic of the protest movement who has vocally defended Confederate Flags and monuments.

828d ago / 2:59 AM UTC

Daniel Cameron, Kentucky's Republican attorney general, excoriates Biden in speech

Daniel Cameron, a Republican who is Kentucky's attorney general, excoriated Biden in his speech at the RNC on Tuesday night over the former vice president’s previous comments on race. 

“The question is: Will we choose the path that gives us the best chance to meet those universal desires? Or will we go backward, to a time when people were treated like political commodities who can’t be trusted to think for themselves?” Cameron, who is Black said, a common refrain from Black conservatives who argue the Democratic Party takes Black voters for granted. 

He called Biden a “backwards thinker” with a “trail of discredited ideas and offensive statements” — one of the most forceful rebukes of Biden from one of the top Black Republicans in the country. 

“I think often about my ancestors who struggled for freedom. And as I think of those giants and their broad shoulders, I also think about Joe Biden, who says, ‘If you aren’t voting for me, you ain’t black,’ who argued that Republicans would put us ‘back in chains,’ who says there is no ‘diversity’ of thought in the black community," he said. 

Biden has apologized for his comments after intense scrutiny, but Cameron’s speech signals the problems both parties have with race. Although Black voters support Biden overwhelmingly, he has struggled with younger Black voters.

Trump has also been accused of using racial slurs, including the N-word. Cameron himself has also been under scrutiny over the killing of 26-year-old EMT and aspiring nurse Breonna Taylor. Protesters have called on officials to charge and arrest the officers who killed Taylor in her own home on March 13.

828d ago / 2:57 AM UTC

Fact check: Eric Trump falsely says Biden wants to defund police

"Biden has pledged to defund the police," the president's son said Tuesday.

The assertion, made or insinuated in multiple speeches at the RNC, is inaccurate. Biden rejected those calls from the hard left in June, telling CBS News: "No, I don't support defunding the police."

He has instead proposed to increase police funding by "reinvigorate the COPS program with a $300 million investment," according to his official justice platformCOPS refers to Community Oriented Policing Services, a program that seeks to bolster community-based policing. 

828d ago / 2:49 AM UTC

Pompeo praises Trump from Jerusalem amid backlash

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Pompeo addressed the RNC, speaking from Jerusalem in an unprecedented political moment for the country's top diplomat

He promoted Trump's agenda abroad, saying that it "may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it has worked."

His speech was met with backlash even before it aired. 

Diplomats who are barred by law from mixing work and politics say they're appalled by Pompeo's decision to address the RNC, breaking with long-standing traditions aimed at isolating American's foreign policy from partisan battles at home.

It would be problematic enough, current and former U.S. diplomats said, if Pompeo were simply showing up at the convention to speak. But Pompeo's decision to use a stop in Jerusalem during an official overseas trip as the site for his recorded speech to fellow Republicans raises even more troubling questions about the message it sends to other countries and whether U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill, they said.

The speech is also under investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subpanel on oversight.

828d ago / 2:45 AM UTC

Fact check: Eric Trump falsely claims Biden wants to 'take away' the Second Amendment

Eric Trump claimed Tuesday that Joe Biden has pledged to “take away our cherished Second Amendment.”

Biden has pledged no such thing.

Biden’s gun control plan includes a push for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, incentivizing states to pass and enforce “red flag” laws (measures that would allow law enforcement to temporarily seize guns from people found to be a danger to themselves or to others), an effort to have all guns sold be “smart guns” (personalized guns that use various technologies to prevent anyone other than an authorized user from firing the weapon).

The plan calls for many other measures, too, including the regulation of the possession of existing assault weapons and the closing of the “hate crime” loophole and the “Charleston” loophole, which allows the sale of a firearm if a background check is not completed within three days.

Those measures, which would be extremely unlikely to pass a divided Congress even if Biden were elected, do not “take away” the Second Amendment because none of Biden’s measures would confiscate all guns.

"I'm not opposed to the Second Amendment," Biden has said on numerous occasions. "The Second Amendment isn't absolute, though. Like any other amendment, it's not absolute."

Eric Trump may have been repeating a claim hurled at Biden in March when the former vice president was touring a car factory. During his visit, Biden told a factory worker he was “full of s---” after the man claimed Biden was going to take away his guns. A clip of their interaction went viral.

828d ago / 2:45 AM UTC

Eric Trump drops a chilling line from Reagan, but its context isn't quite right

Eric Trump channeled Ronald Reagan during his speech with the line: "One day we could spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States, where men and women were free."

It's certainly a striking line, and one Eric Trump used to warn about what would happen if "the extreme left" takes power in the U.S. But the context here is notable. The line is from a 1961 speech from Reagan who, as an actor, was arguing against Medicare, the national health insurance system that is now used by more than 60 million older Americans and people with disabilities. 

It's a program that could be expanded if Biden wins.

828d ago / 2:45 AM UTC

Trump's RNC White House naturalization ceremony raises Hatch Act red flag

The Hatch Act generally prohibits federal employees aside from the president from engaging in political activities in their official capacity, and critics charged that DHS Secretary Chad Wolf's presiding over a naturalization ceremony filmed for the Republican National Convention may have been a violation. The use of the White House as a backdrop for the event also raised red flags.

Accusations of Hatch Act violations are not new to the Trump administration. Violations can result in disciplinary actions or removal from the government, though such a strong response has not taken place in light of high profile instances.

Another potential violation occurred later in the convention, with Pompeo's speech.

The Hatch Act began trending on Twitter during the convention's second hour.

828d ago / 2:39 AM UTC

Fact check: Eric Trump says Biden wants 'amnesty and health care' for undocumented immigrants

“Biden has pledged to stop border wall construction and give amnesty and health care to all illegal immigrants,” the president’s son, Eric Trump, said Tuesday night.

This is misleading. While it's true that Biden has pledged to stop construction of the border wall Trump made a key 2016 campaign promise, he has hardly proposed amnesty and free health care for all undocumented immigrants. 

Biden supports allowing undocumented immigrants to purchase health care with their own money; he does not support using taxpayer-funded subsidies for undocumented immigrants’ insurance. And he supports legislative immigration reform that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have passed background checks and are up-to-date on taxes. 

828d ago / 2:36 AM UTC

Family is supposed to humanize the candidate, but Trump’s kids have given stump speeches

During national nominating conventions, family members and spouses play more than an ornamental role. They come out and usually share a funny anecdote or positive character trait to humanize the candidate to voters. 

For instance, during the 2016 RNC, Ivanka Trump spoke of playing with Legos in her father’s office as a kid. At this year’s RNC, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump — the two who have spoken so far — delivered anti-Biden stump speeches rather than a fuller portrait of their father. 

(Eric did speak directly to his father in his speech, saying he was proud to fight for him.)

Image: Tiffany Trump
Tiffany Trump stands on stage before she tapes her speech for the second day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington on Aug. 25, 2020.Susan Walsh / AP

 

“This is a fight for freedom versus oppression, for opportunity versus stagnation, a fight to keep America true to America,” Tiffany said Tuesday night.

On Monday night, Donald Trump Jr. said: “Joe Biden is basically the Loch Ness monster of the Swamp. For the past ­half-century, he’s been lurking around in there.”

Biden’s children spoke about their dad in glowing, personal tones and the DNC included a montage of his son Beau, who died in 2015, also talking about his dad beyond politics.

While three of the children gave speeches largely devoid of any personal touches — with Ivanka slated to speak Thursday — the role of the president’s family so far at the RNC has been as general election surrogates.

828d ago / 2:34 AM UTC

Fact check: Eric Trump says administration's tax law repatriated 'trillions of dollars'

Eric Trump, one of President Trump’s sons, said Tuesday during his speech at the RNC that “trillions of dollars were repatriated back into the United States — which had been sitting in foreign lands for far too long.”

"Trillions" is an overstatement, though Eric Trump is in the ballpark. Still, the number is far less than the amount of money the president had expected his tax bill to repatriate to the U.S.

The tax bill that Trump signed in December 2017 cut corporate tax rates — a move the administration said would make it favorable for companies to bring back into the U.S. cash stashed in foreign operations. Trump had predicted the new tax structure would incentivize companies to bring back $4 trillion into U.S. accounts.

As of the end of 2019, U.S. corporations had brought back more than $1 trillion of overseas profits to the country, according to analyses of Commerce Department data. Eric Trump’s figure falls short of his father’s promises.

Furthermore, the tax bill ended up having other unintended consequences. In the year after it was signed into law, the tax package funded a record stock buyback and dividend spree, benefiting investors and company executives over workers.

828d ago / 2:25 AM UTC

RNC segment on opioids muddles the facts on progress under Trump

The RNC featured emotional testimony from Ryan Holets, a New Mexico police officer who adopted a child from a homeless woman with heroin addiction.

"I hold a special place in my heart for those facing opioid addiction," he said. "That’s why I’m enormously grateful to the President for his leadership in fighting this deadly enemy. Through his efforts, we are turning the tide on the crisis of addiction."

Trump made tackling the opioid crisis a central part of his 2016 campaign. Since then, the administration has declared it a national public health emergency and has poured $1.8 billion in funding to states to combat the opioid crisis by expanding access to treatment and improving data tracking on overdoses.

However, the issue has continued to persist under his leadership. Fatal overdoses in 2019 increased over 10 percent from 2016, according to federal CDC data. The administration has also opposed some efforts to expand healthcare, particularly under the Affordable Care Act. 

The Washington Post also fact-checked the administration’s progress on the opioid epidemic last year and noted that the nationwide trend of reduced opioid prescriptions, for which Trump tried to take credit, began under President Obama's leadership due to measures implemented by that administration.

828d ago / 2:20 AM UTC

Fact check: Bondi repeats baseless claim about Biden's role in ouster of Ukrainian prosecutor

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday night repeated the president’s baseless claim that Democratic nominee Joe Biden wielded his influence as vice president to benefit his son Hunter’s private-sector work in Ukraine.

Bondi, who was part of Trump's impeachment defense team during his Senate trial, said Biden used U.S. foreign aid to engineer the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor, suggesting that the reason Biden pushed for the prosecutor's removal was because he was investigating Burisma Holdings, an energy company where Hunter Biden served on the board.

“Joe Biden — the vice president of the United States — threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless that same prosecutor was fired... and then he was fired,” Bondi said Tuesday night.

There's still no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of either Biden.

That prosecutor, Viktor Shokin was widely believed to be soft on corruption; the United States and other Western countries had called for his removal. Ukraine’s Parliament ultimately voted to remove him.

And while Biden has taken credit for getting Shokin fired by leveraging U.S. foreign aid, there's little evidence he acted to help his son. In 2019, Bloomberg News, citing documents and an interview with a former Ukrainian official, reported the Burisma investigation had been dormant for more than a year by the time Biden called for the crackdown on corruption. The then-Ukrainian prosecutor general told the news agency he found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and his son. And PolitiFact reported it found no evidence to "support the idea that Joe Biden advocated with his son's interests in mind."

Asked if Biden's work to get Shokin fired raised a conflict of interest, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said it did not. 

"I don't think that — the view that Mr. Shokin was not a good prosecutor general fighting corruption, I don't think that had anything to do with the Burisma case," she said

Trump was impeached by the House for abuse of power involving Ukraine. Democrats said there was ample evidence that Trump had abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into Biden and his son while withholding almost $400 million in aid, and that he had obstructed Congress by refusing to release any documents related to his actions. Trump was acquitted after a Senate trial.

828d ago / 2:10 AM UTC
828d ago / 2:10 AM UTC

Trump participates in naturalization ceremony despite attacks on immigration

Trump on Tuesday participated in a naturalization ceremony on the second day of the RNC, ostensibly as a way to highlight legal immigration.

Footage of the ceremony aired during the RNC on Tuesday night.

But Trump, in addition to prominent attacks on undocumented immigrants, has taken many swipes at legal immigration too.

Among other attempts to limit immigration are Trump's ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries, various visa restrictions, a limit on refugees, dramatic changes to the asylum system and executive orders limited immigration.

828d ago / 2:07 AM UTC

On Bondi speech, Biden camp reprises old response

The Biden campaign is responding to Pam Bondi’s RNC speech on Tuesday by simply pointing back to a statement they issued during the impeachment trial:

"We didn't realize that Breitbart was expanding into Ted Talk knockoffs. Here on planet Earth, the conspiracy theory that Bondi repeated has been conclusively refuted. The New York Times calls it 'debunked,' The Wall Street Journal calls it 'discredited,' the AP calls it 'incorrect,' and The Washington Post fact checker calls it 'a fountain of falsehoods.' The diplomat that Trump himself appointed to lead his Ukraine policy has blasted it as 'self serving' and 'not credible.' Joe Biden was instrumental to a bipartisan and international anti-corruption victory. It's no surprise that such a thing is anathema to President Trump."

828d ago / 2:02 AM UTC
828d ago / 2:01 AM UTC

The past is never dead — even at the GOP convention

This convention’s treatment of COVID-19 as a conquered thing of the past echoes the ‘28 GOP’s treatment of an economic downturn, as Calvin Coolidge was credited by his fellow partisans with already having averted a "Great Depression."

White House adviser Larry Kudlow and others have credited Trump with successfully navigating through a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 175,000 Americans and remains a spreading public health threat.

In 1928, Republicans won another term, with Herbert Hoover succeeding Coolidge. The stock market crashed the next year and the nation was plunged into the Great Depression that had been portrayed as a bygone peril.

828d ago / 1:46 AM UTC

Fact check: Kudlow claims Trump inherited 'stagnant' economy. That's false.

President Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow claimed Tuesday during his speech at the RNC that Trump, when elected, was “inheriting a stagnant economy on the front end of recession.”

That is false. 

Looking at the broadest measure of economic health, gross domestic product, the numbers show that average quarterly economic growth under Trump, 2.5 percent, was almost exactly what it was under President Obama in his second term, 2.4 percent.

In 2016, Trump said he was unhappy that the country’s economic growth rate was under 3 percent a year. Trump said he thought the economy could grow at better-than-4-percent annual rate.

Kudlow also claimed Tuesday night that the economy “was rebuilt in three years,” saying that “unemployment fell to the lowest rate of 3.5 percent.” 

The Trump administration rightly takes credit for having low unemployment during his presidency, but the idea that Trump "rebuilt" the economy is misleading. Unemployment under Obama had already been trending downward.

In December of 2019 — before the pandemic hit the U.S. — the unemployment rate was a scant 3.5 percent, the lowest it had been in 50 years.

However, as good as that number was, when Trump took office the rate was already at 4.7 percent. That figure is quite low by historical standards (lower than all of the 1980s as well as most of the 1990s and 2000s). In fact, Obama saw a much steeper drop in unemployment in his second term, a 3.3 drop in the rate, than Trump did in his first three years, a decline of 1.2 points.

The numbers under Trump appear to be the continuation of a trend, not something new.

Job creation numbers offer more evidence for this.

On average, there were more jobs added monthly in Obama’s second term than there were in Trump's first three years.

On average, the country created 215,000 new jobs a month in Obama’s second term. In Trump’s first three years, the figure was 182,000. They are both good numbers and if you look at the jobs data plotted on a graph, the rise since 2011 actually looks pretty consistent.

There is one indicator that suggests a change under Trump: the rise in the stock market. On Dec. 31, 2019, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 28,538. That was up 56 percent from 18,332, where it was the day Trump was elected in 2016. 

From Obama's second Election Day until 2016, the Dow climbed 38 percent.

828d ago / 1:43 AM UTC

RNC pushes criminal justice reform without police reforms

In the early portion of RNC night 2, Trump’s support for law enforcement and advocacy for those subjected to extended prison sentences intersected with one of the convention’s prevailing themes. Racism is not the problem, many speakers have suggested; the problem is the way that those subjected to it respond.

Trump’s sentencing reforms did, in their first year, lead to abbreviated sentences or the outright release of about 4,500 people, and won Trump plaudits from people across the political spectrum. However, many who work in local government or to help those released from prison navigate the often difficult challenges of finding work or places to live have said that additional attention and funding is needed to help those who have benefited from Trump’s First Step Act. And many contacted by NBC News who are working with the formerly incarcerated also pointed to the need to press reforms further to affect a larger number of those convicted of crimes.

The decision to pardon – on camera – Jon Ponder, a Black man who thanked the federal agent who arrested him and described his struggles with the criminal justice system as rooted in his own “animosity,” set up one of Trump’s preferred ways of approaching the question of how the nation’s criminal justice system functions. Ponder was someone entirely grateful, entirely supportive of Trump and disengaged from the roiling national conversation about policing, race and justice. 

“Not so long ago, my life was running from the police, fearing the police and avoiding the police….,” Ponder said. “But today, I’m filled with hope. I have been given a second chance.”

The only direct mention of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot repeatedly by a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer, and the civil unrest the shooting has spurred, came at the beginning of the evening in an opening prayer. There Pastor Norma Urrabazo of the International Church of Las Vegas prayed for "healing and comfort to Jacob Blake and his family."

828d ago / 1:39 AM UTC

Tiffany Trump, president's youngest daughter, says she relates to struggling graduates

828d ago / 1:35 AM UTC

Cissie Graham Lynch attacks trans rights in speech

Cissie Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of late evangelical pastor Billy Graham, gave a primetime speech aimed at boasting about Trump’s policies that protect so-called religious liberty. 

During her speech, she apparently refers to transgender girls as "boys,” while referring to policies that aim to accommodate transgender people based on their gender identity. 

"Democrats pressured schools to allow boys to compete in girls' sports and use girls' locker rooms,” she said. 

There were no efforts to “pressure” schools. However, there have been legal battles provoked by conservatives after largely Democratic lawmakers passed various measures to accommodate transgender Americans.

Recently, the Supreme Court, which leans conservative, agreed in a 6-3 decision that language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination, also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

828d ago / 1:34 AM UTC

Fact check: Was Trump first president to talk religious freedom at the U.N.?

Cissie Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of evangelical preacher Billy Graham, said Tuesday night that Trump is the first president “to talk about the importance of religious freedom at the United Nations, giving hope to people of faith around the world."

This is false. Here’s a clip of Obama talking about religious freedom at the U.N.; here’s a news report of George W. Bush doing the same. At the U.N. last year, Trump said he was the first to host a meeting on religious freedom, but he's definitely not the first to talk up the issue.

828d ago / 1:26 AM UTC

Nick Sandmann, teen who sued news outlets over viral incident, says America should join Trump's media bashing

Nick Sandmann, a teenager who gained national attention after appearing at a political protest in 2019, said at the Republican National Convention Tuesday that the country needs to "unite" around President Trump's media bashing.

Sandmann was involved in an incident with a Native American activist on the Washington Mall in January 2019. Video of a portion of their encounter went viral and there was a dispute over what actually occurred.

In his speech, Sandmann railed against the backlash he received following the incident.

"I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being cancelled. As in annulled. As in revoked. As in made void," he said. "Cancelled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left."

"I’m proud to say that throughout my media nightmare I have had President Trump’s unwavering support," he added later. Echoing Trump's long-standing attacks on news outlets, he added, "I know you’ll agree with me when I say no one in this country has been a victim of unfair media coverage more than President Donald Trump."

Sandmann has a pending lawsuit against NBCUniversal and other media outlets based on reporting about the incident.

828d ago / 1:22 AM UTC

RNC keeps highlighting federal courts, unlike Democrats

Republicans continued to highlight the importance of the 2020 election on the Supreme Court and other federal courts on the second day. It was frequently mentioned on Monday as well, with President Trump and others noting that the winner may be able to add justices.

The focus on the courts is a marked contrast to the Democratic convention last week, when the Supreme Court was mentioned just once across four days — by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. It comes as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 87 and battling a recurrence of cancer while Justice Stephen Breyer, a fellow liberal-leaning member, is 82.

828d ago / 1:19 AM UTC

Planned Parenthood director turned anti-abortion crusader speaks on Night 2

Abby Johnson worked for Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, for eight years, eventually becoming the clinic’s director before abruptly quitting and joining the anti-abortion movement. 

Johnson’s switch from heading the clinic to conservative Christian celebrity stems from her claim, which has been called into question, that her views on abortion changed after she witnessed an abortion of a 13-week fetus. She swiftly garnered national news headlines and became an outspoken anti-abortion speaker career and founded a ministry that helps abortion workers quit their jobs.

Her presence at the convention has shed new light on past remarks she'd made about gender.

In May, Johnson tweeted that she would "support bringing back household voting," a policy that existed prior to women's suffrage allowing only the head of a household— ostensibly a man— to vote. She doubled down on her stance on Tuesday saying, she "absolutely" supported head of household voting.

"I said what I said," she tweeted.

828d ago / 1:15 AM UTC

Larry Kudlow refers to pandemic in the past tense

Larry Kudlow, President Trump's top economic adviser, referred to the pandemic and associated economic downturn in the past tense, saying it "was awful" in his speech before the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

Known for his extremely rosy economic outlooks, Kudlow's remarks were quickly panned online.

It also was a rare mention of the pandemic on Tuesday, which has so far killed more than 175,000 Americans and has yet to dissipate, along with its economic impact.

828d ago / 1:15 AM UTC

Rand Paul paints Trump as a pacifist to ‘end wars.’ Trump rhetoric says otherwise

Rand Paul tried to paint Trump as someone who would bring an end to wars overseas and reduce the number of troops in countries like Afghanistan. 

"President Trump is the first president in a generation to seek to end wars rather than start one,” later adding that he fears Biden "will support war again," citing the former vice president’s Iraq war vote. Biden has since said he regrets giving President Bush that authority.

However, Trump’s record and rhetoric say otherwise. He has said that North Korea would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” during his ongoing back and forth with Kim Jong Un. He also threatened to "bomb the shit out of ISIS” and has considerably boosted the military’s budget during his first term.

828d ago / 1:13 AM UTC

About those lobsters...

A lobster fisherman took the RNC stage on Tuesday night to make a pitch for the president’s re-election, highlighting an industry near and dear to the president's heart: Maine lobsters.

Trump has often boasted about fighting for the state's lobster industry — he sent a bailout their way earlier this year — but both the segment and president fail to mention that it was Trump's trade war that destabilized the industry in the first place. 

828d ago / 1:08 AM UTC

Thousands of immigrants caught in backlog may not get citizenship in time to vote

As President Donald Trump swore in new Americans on the second day of the Republican convention, hundreds of thousands of immigrants waited in a citizenship backlog.

And many are unlikely to be able to vote this year as a result. 

The coronavirus delayed citizenship interviews — which stopped in March and resumed in June — as well as naturalization ceremonies. A budget shortfall in the agency funded by application fees added to an operations slowdown at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

On Tuesday, USCIS announced it was canceling a planned furlough of more than 13,000 employees set for Aug. 30. The agency faced bipartisan pressure from Congress to avert the furloughs. 

Becoming a citizen is a months-long process and with the backlogs, thousands are waiting to complete their naturalization in time to register to vote in November. USCIS came under fire for not finding substitutes for live ceremonies and interviews. 

828d ago / 1:01 AM UTC

Fact check: Sen. Rand Paul on Trump's Iraq War opposition

“Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War, which President Trump has long called the worst geopolitical mistake of our generation,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on Tuesday night.

This is true, though it omits some key context. Before the Iraq War began, Trump said he supported the invasion of the country in an interview. He did not express a negative opinion about the war until after it had started, according to previous NBC News fact checks

Biden, too, has changed his mind. Biden has repeatedly said his vote for the Iraq War was a mistake.

828d ago / 12:49 AM UTC

Trump kicks off convention by honoring man he just pardoned

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One of the first segments of Tuesday's convention was a video honoring Jon Ponder, a convicted felon who later became an advocate for prisoners. Trump pardoned Jon Ponder hours before Ponder was set to speak.

In a video released Tuesday evening, Trump said Ponder's "life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption."

Ponder appeared alongside Rich Beasley, the FBI agent who arrested him. Beasley recounted the story of how the two reconnected, referring to Ponder as one of his "best friends."

Read more about the pardon here.

828d ago / 12:42 AM UTC

Trump tweets first comments on Jacob Blake shooting, says Wisconsin should call in National Guard — the governor already has

Donald Trump made his first public reference to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, calling on Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to call in the National Guard to handle protests that have erupted in its aftermath.

"Governor should call in the National Guard in Wisconsin," Trump tweeted. "It is ready, willing, and more than able. End problem FAST!"

One issue: The governor already called in the National Guard on Monday.

The opening prayer at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday included a mention of Blake's family.

Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by police and is now paralyzed from the waist down, according to his family, was not mentioned by name in the tweet.

828d ago / 12:27 AM UTC

RNC speaker pulled after tweet surfaced promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories

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Mary Ann Mendoza was removed from her speaking slot just hours before she was set to appear at Tuesday night's Republican National Convention after she was found to have promoted a series of tweets positing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. 

Mendoza is on the advisory board of President Trump's re-election campaign. She has been an outspoken advocate for Trump's immigration policies. Her son was killed in 2014 by a drunk driver who was an undocumented immigrant.

Mendoza was removed from her slot sometime before 6 p.m. ET, according to a Trump campaign source. Mendoza's prepared remarks were still sent out to media organizations.

"We have removed the scheduled video from the convention lineup and it will no longer run this week," Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told NBC News.

In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Mendoza encouraged her followers to read a long Twitter thread that featured a wide variety of known anti-Semitic conspiracy theories as well as references to QAnon. She later deleted the tweet and apologized. 

828d ago / 12:01 AM UTC

You're going to hear from a handful of Trump family members tonight

Donald Trump is putting his family front and center during the Republican National Convention on Night 2, with his son Eric Trump, daughter Tiffany Trump and wife Melania Trump, the first lady, slated to speak.

Trump has put family members like his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner in top White House jobs while Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who spoke in a primetime Monday address before the convention, run the family business. Ivanka Trump will deliver her speech on Thursday.

It remains an open question which, if any, Trump — with most eyes focused on Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. — will pick up the family's political mantle after their father's presidency.

The family affair comes amid some turmoil within the Trump family. Days ago, the president's niece, Mary Trump, who earlier this year published a tell-all book on the president's family, released secretly recorded audio of Trump's sister, former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, chiding her brother as a liar with "no principles."

Meanwhile, last August, Trump's longtime executive assistant Madeleine Westerhout resigned from the White House after she told reporters in an off-the-record discussion that she had a better relationship with the president than his eldest daughter and said Trump didn't like being photographed with Tiffany Trump because he perceived her as overweight. She also jokingly said Trump couldn't pick Tiffany Trump out of a crowd.

Trump denied that sentiment, telling reporters, "Tiffany is great. I love Tiffany."

828d ago / 11:54 PM UTC

RNC speaker promotes thread of anti-Semitic and QAnon conspiracy theories

Mary Ann Mendoza, an anti-immigration activist who is scheduled to speak on Tuesday at the convention, encouraged her Twitter followers on Tuesday morning to read a long Twitter thread of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. 

"Do yourself a favor and read this thread," she added to a tweet thread that looped in a variety of conspiracy theories about Jewish people and a wide-ranging plot to rule the world that included the sinking of the Titanic and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. 

The thread also included numerous references to QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that posits a variety of wild claims, most centrally that President Trump is waging a secret war against a secret cabal of child abusers.

The Daily Beast first reported on Mendoza's tweets.

Conspiracy theories that spent years bubbling on the fringes of the internet and far-right communities have gradually made inroads to many parts of the Republican party. QAnon has been the most successful, with numerous GOP candidates having a connection to the movement. When asked about QAnon, Trump said he didn't know much about it but said, "I've heard these are people who love our country."

Mendoza later deleted the tweet and apologized, saying, "I retweeted a very long thread earlier without reading every post within the thread.  My apologies for not paying attention to the intent of the whole message.  That does not reflect my feelings or personal thoughts whatsoever."

828d ago / 11:41 PM UTC

All eyes on Melania: First lady’s speech will be ‘positive,’ but will it avoid plagiarism?

Melania Trump is headlining Night 2 of the RNC tonight, but one cloud hanging over her speech is the allegations of plagiarism from her 2016 RNC speech. 

Melania Trump’s speechwriter lifted direct passages from Michelle Obama's 2008 DNC remarks in what the campaign at the time called an innocent mistake.

This year, the first lady's chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, told Fox News on Tuesday that Melania’s speech is “going to be very positive and uplifting.” 

“But she also wants to lay out for the American people why it's so important that the president become re-elected,” she said, adding that the first lady has also been working for months with historians, horticulturists and others to restore the Rose Garden to its original 1962 design for her speech.

828d ago / 11:27 PM UTC

Pam Bondi to revive her impeachment role in RNC speech

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is speaking at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday to, as the Trump campaign previewed, "expose how the Biden family profited off of Joe Biden’s name for decades while America’s workers got left behind."

Bondi and Trump have an interesting relationship that dates back years. Most notably, the Trump Foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political group backing Bondi in 2013 as Bondi's office was deciding whether to take action against the since-shuttered Trump University.

Bondi was a member of Trump's impeachment defense team earlier this year, where she took on essentially the same role she is filling during the RNC on Tuesday — serving up anti-Biden attacks on his family, particularly his son Hunter Biden for his work in Ukraine.

The last time around, Bondi's delivery did not win rave reviews.

828d ago / 11:22 PM UTC

Night 1 of Republican convention mirrors Democratic convention's TV ratings decline

The opening night of the Republican National Convention on Monday drew about 17 million TV viewers, a drop of 26 percent compared to the same convention in 2016, according to data from the media measurement company Nielsen.

The decline mirrors that of the first night of the Democratic National Convention, which attracted 19.7 million viewers — a decline of about 24 percent from the opening of the same convention four years ago.

Fox News logged the largest audience for the 10 p.m. ET hour, with an average of 7.1 million viewers, easily besting CNN and ABC, which each drew about 2 million viewers. NBC and MSNBC attracted 1.7 million and 1.6 million, respectively. CBS had 1.5 million.

The broad decline in TV viewership may have been balanced in part by an increase in online viewership. TJ Ducklo, national press secretary for Joe Biden's presidential campaign, tweeted last week that the first night of the Democratic convention broke a record for digital streams, with 10.2 million.

Read more about TV ratings here.

828d ago / 11:15 PM UTC

Susan Collins refuses to say if she'll vote for Trump

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After the head of the Maine Republican Party told local reporters in a conference that Sen. Susan Collins “supports” President Trump, it raised a lot of questions as the Maine senator has refused to say if she’ll vote for Trump in November. She did not vote for him in 2016. 

Collins is in a tough re-election race where she is carefully trying the thread the line of not offending Trump supporters in the state while still maintaining the support of the independent-minded Maine voter.  

Pressed on her plans to vote in November, Collins told an NBC affiliate reporter, "I am concentrating on my own race."

828d ago / 10:54 PM UTC

Trump pardons convention speaker set to appear with FBI agent who caught him

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President Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, a convicted felon who became an advocate for prisoners, hours before Ponder was set to speak at the Republican convention on Tuesday.

In a video released Tuesday evening, Trump said Ponder's "life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption."

Ponder was convicted of bank robbery and embraced Christianity while imprisoned for six years. He founded Hope for Prisoners in Las Vegas, a prisoner re-entry group that Trump addressed this year.

Ponder will be speaking at the convention alongside former FBI agent Richard Beasley, who arrested Ponder for bank robbery.

A thrice-convicted felon, Ponder was pardoned for other state convictions by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, this year.

Two White House officials told NBC News the video of Trump pardoning Ponder will play during the convention Tuesday. this video of the president pardoning Jon Ponder will play tonight.

"The president believes Jon Ponder encapsulates the First Step Act," one official said.

828d ago / 10:20 PM UTC

Pompeo to say at RNC that Trump will keep 'freedoms intact' if re-elected

Republicans will focus on the economy, trade and cultural debates to make the case for President Trump on Tuesday on the second night of their nominating convention, according to excerpts released by the campaign.

Mike Pompeo will talk about foreign policy, arguing Trump has "led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world” and “keep us safe and our freedoms intact," according to the Trump campaign.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky will also focus on Trump's foreign policy according to an excerpt shared by the campaign, and will say the president was committed to “end war rather than start one."

Read more about Pompeo's address here.

828d ago / 9:46 PM UTC

Michael Cohen is 'complying...'

828d ago / 9:29 PM UTC

Biden campaign says there were 'too many lies to count' during RNC's first night

Joe Biden's campaign on Tuesday said there were "too many lies to count" during the first night of the Republican National Convention, adding it was "total malarkey."

"Last night’s incoherent charade was sad, underwhelming, and devoid of vision to the point that it bordered on self parody," the campaign said in a release. "And it glaringly lacked what American families have been demanding for over seven months as Trump’s devastating, inexcusable mismanagement of the pandemic response has cost nearly 180,000 American lives and tens of millions of jobs: any strategy to overcome the coronavirus outbreak."

"Instead of offering anything close to a plan to save American lives and bring our economy back on track, the Republican Convention speakers issued obvious lie after obvious lie," the campaign added. "It was a stark reminder of their inability to make any affirmative case for Trump’s re-election after he’s made the United States the hardest hit country by the pandemic in the entire world and made divisive poison his calling card."

Click here for NBC News' fact check of Night 1.

828d ago / 8:58 PM UTC

QAnon-supporting House candidate to attend Trump White House speech

828d ago / 8:32 PM UTC

Every Rose Garden has its thorny issues

Image: ***BESTPIX*** White House Holds Media Preview Of Renewed Rose Garden
A view of the recently renovated Rose Garden at the White House on Aug. 22, 2020.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The White House Rose Garden was spruced up in time for its moment in the campaign spotlight.

First lady Melania Trump will deliver her RNC speech Tuesday night from the garden, famous for its close proximity to the Oval Office after three weeks of work. White House officials said the renovations were paid for by private donations. They declined to reveal the cost of the work.

The location of the first lady's speech will be just one of the ways that the Republican National Convention will break with political norms. Federal rules prohibit the White House from being the setting for expressly political events, a regulation that many presidents have flirted with violating.

But the Trump family will be the first to use the executive mansion for a political convention.