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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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895d ago / 10:54 PM UTC

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


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.

895d 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.

895d ago / 9:46 PM UTC

Michael Cohen is 'complying...'

895d 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.

895d ago / 8:58 PM UTC

QAnon-supporting House candidate to attend Trump White House speech

895d 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.

895d ago / 8:31 PM UTC

Forklift damages iconic monument ahead of Pence speech

A forklift has damaged a brick walkway at the iconic national monument Fort McHenry, where Republicans were building a stage for Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance for the party’s national convention, a National Park Service spokeswoman said Monday.

A national parks advocacy group expressed outrage at the damage, saying stewardship of national monuments should be nonpartisan and professional.

National Park Service spokeswoman Stephanie Roulett confirmed the damage in an email Monday. She said the damaged bricks dated from a 1930s restoration at the fort but gave no details.

This month, the Maryland Republican Party asked for and got a special-use permit from the National Park Service to use the fort as a backdrop for Pence’s political address Wednesday during the Republican National Convention. The park service provided The Associated Press a copy of the permit, which calls the event a political rally and said crews would be building a stage inside the fort, among other work.

895d ago / 7:32 PM UTC

Puerto Ricans push back on Kimberly Guilfoyle's 'first-generation American' remarks

Puerto Ricans are pushing back against misleading remarks from Kimberly Guilfoyle, the national chair of the Trump Victory Finance Committee, during her speech at the Republican National Convention Monday night.

Guilfoyle, a former California prosecutor and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., showed her support for President Donald Trump's re-election as "a Latina and proud American," she said. Her mother is from Puerto Rico and her father from Ireland.

"As a first generation American, I know how dangerous their socialist agenda is," said Guilfoyle, referring to Democratic opponent Joe Biden and his vice presidential pick, Kamala Harris. "My mother, Mercedes, was a special education teacher from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. My father, also an immigrant, came to this nation in pursuit of the American dream. Now, I consider it my duty to fight to protect that dream."

Her remarks sparked a loud social media backlash lead by people reminding Guilfoyle that Puerto Ricans are not immigrants because they are born U.S. citizens.

Read more here.

895d ago / 7:07 PM UTC

House panel to investigate Pompeo's RNC speech

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to speak at the RNC on Tuesday is now under investigation by the House.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subpanel on oversight informed the State Department of the inquiry in a letter obtained by NBC News after the committee obtained internal State Department legal guidance that explicitly prohibited Senate-confirmed presidential appointees from even attending political conventions.

The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, says that the speech is not only "highly unusual and likely unprecedented" but that "it appears that it may also be illegal."

The letter refers to an email Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun sent the workforce, reported by NBC News, saying that to comply with the Hatch Act, "I will be sitting on the sidelines of the political process this year and will not be attending any political events, to include the national conventions."

The House panel is requesting a briefing by next Tuesday, Sept. 1, on how the speech came about, as well as a list of all costs related to the trip including those reimbursed by the RNC, the Trump campaign or others. A State Department spokesperson previously told NBC News that the State Department was not bearing any of the costs of Pompeo’s speech, which it said he is conducting in his "personal capacity."

895d ago / 5:06 PM UTC

Cissie Graham Lynch, granddaughter of Billy Graham, among those speaking Tuesday night

Tuesday's convention lineup includes Cissie Graham Lynch, the daughter of evangelist Franklin Graham and the granddaughter of the late Billy Graham, and a former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life speaker. 

Graham Lynch serves as communications adviser and spokesperson of her father's organizations, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse. She serves on the executive evangelical advisory board of President Donald Trump’s faith advisory council, according to Trump's campaign, which announced Tuesday's lineup. Franklin Graham is slated to speak at the convention on Thursday. 

Also speaking Tuesday is Abby Johnson, who worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years before becoming a pro-life speaker and founder of And Then There Were None, an organization that encourages workers related to abortion to leave their jobs, the campaign said. 

Sen. Rand Paul and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are also expected to speak, as are two of the president's children, Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump. First lady Melania Trump is scheduled to conclude the night. 

895d ago / 3:37 PM UTC

Republican Convention: 4 things to watch for on Night 2

WASHINGTON — Night one of the Republican National Convention was a base-oriented mashup of optimism and fear.

While speakers and heavily produced videos touted President Donald Trump’s accomplishments and stoked fears about what a Biden presidency would look like, it was a message tailored mostly to committed Republicans. Some speakers, like a teacher who gave a scathing attack on unions in the first 10 minutes of the night, could even turn off swing voters in heavily unionized states like Michigan.

Republicans again plan on using a lineup of Trump family members, everyday Americans and politicians to make the pitch for another four years for the president on night two of their convention.

Read what to watch on night two.

895d ago / 3:17 PM UTC
895d ago / 3:10 PM UTC

Trump campaign off TV airwaves this week with convention in spotlight

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's campaign isn't running any television ads this week in key battleground states, as the Republican National Convention takes center stage. 

The only television ads Trump has booked from Tuesday through Friday are in Washington D.C., to the tune of about $171,000, according to Advertising Analytics. 

Meanwhile, Joe Biden's campaign has more than $9 million booked on the TV and radio airwaves during that time — including $3 million in Florida, $1.5 million in Pennsylvania, $1.3 million in North Carolina, $1.1 million in Wisconsin and almost $1 million in both Michigan and Arizona.

Image: Donald Trump
Donald Trump takes a stage to speak at Flavor 1st Growers & Packers on Aug. 24, 2020 in Mills River, N.C.Brian Blanco / Getty Images

It's not like the Trump campaign will be absent from the airwaves this week — the Republican National Convention will likely draw millions of eyeballs in primetime, and the coronavirus-related restrictions allow for the party to control its message. 

But the decision to go dark on TV outside of it means that if Trump doesn't go back up on the air through Friday, then the Biden campaign will have outspent him $28.4 million to $4.5 million on TV and radio from the start of the Democratic convention through this coming Friday.

895d ago / 2:28 PM UTC

Top Google searches include Kimberly Guilfoyle, Herschel Walker

Former Fox News anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle was a breakout search Monday night, according to Google data.

The Trump surrogate's speech during the first night of the convention was second among the top-searched remarks. In it, she said, "They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal, victim ideology, to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself." 

But reaction to her speech on social media was largely not about its dark, brooding message, but her loud delivery: She essentially bellowed to an empty room. 

Former professional football player Herschel Walker's remarks, in which he defended Trump and said the president was not a racist, was the top searched for speeches. 

Searches for Charlie Kirk and his nonprofit conservative student organization Turning Point USA also spiked Monday night. In his speech, Kirk called Trump the "bodyguard of Western civilization."

The terms "school choice" and "cancel culture" were breakout search topics Monday night as well. The city with the highest search interest in the convention: Bethesda, Maryland. 

895d ago / 2:20 PM UTC

ANALYSIS: Mixed messages at GOP convention highlight 'Trump First' party

For the first time in its 166-year history, the GOP didn't bother to issue a new platform for its national convention. Instead, Donald Trump and his aides previewed the four-day gathering as a moment for the GOP and the country to look hopefully toward a brighter future under his leadership.

Then the convention got underway.

The mixed messages from the first night of the RNC bring Republicans’ main theme more to the fore, but they also leave the GOP without a coherent plan to offer voters at a time of twin public health and economic crises. In both ways, they reflect how far Trump's transience has pushed the Republican Party into rallying around him rather than any fixed set of principles.

Read more of Jonathan Allen’s analysis of the first night of the RNC.

895d ago / 2:14 PM UTC

Dems offering counter-programming around GOP convention site

If you’re driving around the nation’s capital Tuesday, you may see a mobile billboard funded by the Democratic National Committee. With stops at the White House, the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium and the Republican National Committee’s offices, the Democratic National Committee hopes to attract eyeballs and tweets with its message focused on the unemployment rate, small businesses and evictions. 

“Over 100,000 small businesses have shuttered for good,” one slide says. “As many as 7 million could close forever by the end of 2020,” says the next, as video of President Trump golfing plays.   

The goal is not to respond to what is said each night during the Republican National Convention, a DNC spokesperson told NBC News, but to share messages about what they believe to be President Donald Trump’s policy failures.  

Read more on the DNC's counter-programming efforts.

895d ago / 2:01 PM UTC

Trump thanks CNN for convention coverage

Trump, in a break from character, had kind words for CNN on Tuesday morning for its coverage of the convention the day before. The network, however, did cut away from the president's speech to delegates in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday to fact-check his remarks on mail-in voting. 

895d ago / 1:08 PM UTC

Fact checking the Republican National Convention, Night 1

Speakers on the first night of the Republican National Convention praised Donald Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and slammed opponent Joe Biden’s support for defunding the police and abolishing the suburbs, among other assertions.

NBC News fact checked those claims and others, with context for Trump's differences from Biden.

Read more about what was true and what was not here

895d ago / 12:37 PM UTC

Diplomats aghast as Pompeo set to address GOP convention from Jerusalem

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Diplomats who are barred by law from mixing work and politics say they're appalled by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's decision to address the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, 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.

"It's all just shredding the Hatch Act," a current U.S. diplomat said, referring to the federal law that prohibits government employees from political activity on the job or in their official capacities.

Read more about Pompeo’s RNC address here.

895d ago / 12:34 PM UTC
895d ago / 12:31 PM UTC

'Disgusting': Trump critics slam president for video with freed hostages

WASHINGTON — Critics of President Donald Trump voiced outrage Monday night after an appearance he made during the Republican National Convention with six people who were released from custody in foreign countries with the help of the Trump administration.

“Bringing hostages home safely is always a reason for great joy," tweeted Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist who was unjustly imprisoned by Iranian authorities for 544 days until his release in January 2016. "But using us for political gain is disgusting.”

In the short video showing Trump sitting with the freed group of people at the White House, the president said they were among more than 50 people who have been freed from 22 countries during his administration.

Read more about criticism of Trump’s video with freed hostages here.

895d ago / 12:10 PM UTC

Miles Taylor, other former and current admin officials form anti-Trump group


A group of former U.S. officials, advisers and conservatives organized by people who worked in the current administration has formed against President Donald Trump.

Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration who last week endorsed Joe Biden, confirmed to NBC News on Monday night the creation of the group, which is called the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, or REPAIR.

The group's website says, “Now is the time to speak up, before it’s too late," and adds that it's “calling for leadership change in the White House and seeking to repair the Republican Party. We believe America’s comeback starts this November — with a return to our founding principles.”

Read more about the group’s plans to “irk” the president here.