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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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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.

Trump kicks off convention by honoring man he just pardoned

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.

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.

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

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. 

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."

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."

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.

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.

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.

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

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."

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.

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.

Michael Cohen is 'complying...'

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.

QAnon-supporting House candidate to attend Trump White House speech

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.

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.

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.

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."

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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

Diplomats aghast as Pompeo set to address GOP convention from Jerusalem

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.

'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.

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.