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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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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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."