The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday morning in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the official convention business took place place, with the vote on the formal nomination of President Donald Trump.
On Monday night, viewers heard from a long list of Trump supporters, including former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley; the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.; and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who controversially waved firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters outside St. Louis, Missouri, home earlier this summer, also delivered remarks.
Trump also appeared in a video with six people who his administration helped free after they had been taken into custody in countries around the world and held sometimes for years.
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Fact check: Echoing Trump, McCloskey warns that Biden wants to abolish suburbs. (He doesn't).
Patty McCloskey, who along with her husband was caught on video brandishing firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their St. Louis home in June, used her Republican National Convention speech to accuse Joe Biden and "radical" Democrats of wanting “to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning.”
“This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into now thriving suburban neighborhoods,” said McCloskey, who, along with her husband, Mark, was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon for the June incident.
These claims are all false.
Her statement echoes a key campaign claim by Trump, who has pointed to Biden’s support for an Obama-era rule designed to combat racial discrimination in housing as the basis of this allegation.
The policy pushed by Biden, however, only aims to help the federal government work with local government agencies to create more affordable housing units in all communities. That includes in “communities where U.S. government policies purposely excluded their ability to buy homes and rent homes” — like the suburbs.
The broader rule in question, the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing rule (AFFH), was designed to help implement provisions of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Political analysts, including NBC News’ Jon Allen, have pointed out that Trump, in saying that Biden wants to abolish the suburbs," is actually saying that Biden just trying to enforce a federal rule designed to counter segregation in housing.
“His campaign sounds more like George Wallace than Ronald Reagan," Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins told Allen last month. "His message is clear: 'Elect me and I’ll keep Black people out of your neighborhoods and out of your schools.'"
Suburbs, of course, are, loosely defined; they are simply the areas around major metropolitan areas with more wealth and less housing density. And while it is accurate to say the racial composition of suburbs has changed significantly over time (in 2018, Pew reported that the white share of the population in suburban counties had fallen 8 percent, to 68 percent, since 2000), communities within suburbia remain highly segregated — for a complex set of reasons, Allen noted.
Trump, however, has said as much, arguing that local agencies should get federal housing subsidies even if they refuse to desegregate.
"The Democrats in D.C. have been and want to at a much higher level abolish our beautiful and successful suburbs by placing far-left Washington bureaucrats in charge of local zoning decisions," Trump said at a White House event last month. "Our plan is to protect the suburbs from being obliterated by Washington Democrats, by people on the far Left that want to see the suburbs destroyed — that don’t care. People who have worked all their lives to get into a community and now they’re going to watch it go to hell."
Trump Jr. blasts Biden, calls for 'an end to racism' in convention speech
Donald Trump Jr. delivered the penultimate speech at Monday night's Republican National Convention programming, blasting Democrats and Joe Biden, whom he called the “Loch Ness Monster of the swamp.”
He also lamented the so-called cancel culture and said, "Biden and the radical left are also now coming for our freedom of speech and want to bully us into submission."
"If they get their way, it will no longer be the 'Silent Majority,' it will be the ‘Silenced Majority.'"
The president's eldest son also called for putting “an end to racism,” though, peeling off from sentiment expressed by other speakers who said criticism of America as racist was misplaced.
"All men and women are created equal and must be treated equally under the law," Trump Jr. said. "That’s why we must put an end to racism, and we must ensure that any police officer who abuses their power is held accountable. What happened to George Floyd is a disgrace. And if you know a police officer, you know they agree with that, too."
Trump Jr. did have a couple of missteps in his speech, such as when he called the abbreviation for personal protective equipment "PP and E."
Nikki Haley claims American is 'not racist.'
In a speech featuring the notable claim that “America is not a racist country,” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley spoke about a Republican vision of an America with a few problems that sort of, kind of, have a bit to do with race, but not ever racism.
Haley claimed that America — a country which enshrined equality in its foundational documents while millions of Black people living here would remain enslaved for 89 years after its founding — is not a nation riddled by racism. She instead spoke of growing up a “brown” girl in a black-and-white world. She spoke of her father’s work teaching at a historically Black college. However, most historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were created during Reconstruction, in the period just after the Civil War, at a time when most Southern institutions barred Black students from enrolling. Those conditions remained until the 1960s. Reconstruction was also the period in American history when the Klu Klux Klan formed to combat and ultimately end the brief period of Black empowerment and inclusion in public life.
Haley then referred to a racist mass murder at a Charleston, South Carolina church during her time in office. At the time, Haley said the state had “stared evil in the eye,” and should not forget its history, a “tough history,” as she ordered the Confederate flag removed from the South Carolina state Capitol grounds. Today, Black Americans lag behind white Americans on almost every major measure of economic and physical well-being tracked by researchers. Haley criticized those demanding wholesale change as the wrong focus and wrong approach to improving Black life in the United States.
A few speeches later, Sen. Tim Scott reminded viewers that the Civil War also began in South Carolina.
Telehealth has expanded under Trump — but largely due to the pandemic
Telemedicine has been expanding under the Trump administration, as Amy Ford, a registered nurse, said Monday night at the convention, but that's largely due to the health crisis created by the coronavirus.
Physicians and other medical personnel were forced to meet with patients virtually as hospitals and clinics became loaded by those with COVID-19 and potentially infected.
The Trump administration expanded the services that Medicare beneficiaries could get through telemedicine in March and the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that other restrictions on privacy and on e-prescriptions for controlled substances have been loosened. Insurers, too, have made changes to increase its use.
But technological disparities in the country — communities that lack broadband and people who have little digital-savvy — mean telemedicine is not available to everyone and may make some health gaps even worse. Also, KFF reported coverage and reimbursements are not uniform and most changes to telemedicine are temporary.
Fact check: Trump suggests Democrats want to get rid of the Postal Service. That's false.
During a televised conversation with frontline workers, the president falsely suggested Democrats are the party of “getting rid of our postal workers.”
“We’re taking good care of our postal workers,” Trump said. “Believe me, we're not getting rid of our postal workers, you know? They'd like to sort of put that out there. If anyone does it's the Democrats, not the Republicans.”
Democrats have spent months pushing for more funding to the U.S. Postal Service. This past weekend, the Democratic-controlled House bill advanced a bipartisan bill that put $25 billion in emergency funding toward the struggling USPS. President Trump has opposed such funding, in part because he has said he does not want to see increased mail voting, but said he's open to a compromise.
Fact check: Trump Jr. praises father's fast response to COVID-19 threat. The U.S. lagged.
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, said Monday night that as the coronavirus "began to spread, the president acted quickly and ensured ventilators got to hospitals that needed them most.” He claimed that Trump “delivered PP and E to our brave frontline workers” and that “he rallied the mighty American private sector, to tackle this new challenge.”
Doctors, public health experts and a prominent Republican governor on the front lines of the pandemic have sharply criticized how slowly the Trump White House responded to the coronavirus, including the delays in the distribution of ventilators and personal protective equipment. Trump Jr.'s remarks omit Trump's own comments from January to March, months in which the president downplayed the threat and predicted the virus would disappear — time public health experts have contended cost the U.S. in terms of all-important testing.
Maryland’s Larry Hogan, a Republican, ripped Trump’s slow and “bungled” federal response on testing, ventilators and other equipment. Hogan, in fact, was so frustrated with the federal government’s inability to help the state acquire testing kits that he cut a deal with the South Korean government himself, going around the Trump administration, to acquire 500,000 testing kits for his state.
“I’d watched as the president downplayed the outbreak’s severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals. Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death,” Hogan wrote in an editorial for The Washington Post last month.
Trump, meanwhile, said on March 18 that he was going to invoke the Defense Production Act — a 1950 law allowing the president to force American businesses to produce materials in the national defense, such as ventilators and medical supplies for health care workers — but waited a week to actually invoke it, finally using it on March 27, to force GM to make ventilators.
During that key stretch, even hospitals and doctors implored the administration to use the Defense Production Act to increase the capacity to produce needed equipment. In a March 21 letter to Trump, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association all urged Trump to, "Immediately use the DPA to increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment that hospitals, health systems, physicians, nurses and all front line providers so desperately need.”
Meanwhile, Trump repeatedly dismissed how necessary masks were in helping to contain the spread of the disease until the middle of July — even though public health experts had long said that wearing masks in public is one of the best tools people have to cut down on transmission of the virus — saying at various points that he wanted "people to have a certain freedom" and that "masks cause problems, too."
In April, most Americans agreed that that Trump was too slow in his initial response to the threat, according to Pew Research.
Major GOP donor gives emotional speech
Maximo Alvarez, owner of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors in Florida, delivered an emotion-filled speech in favor of President Trump and against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
What stands out about Alvarez, aside from his personal story, is the amount of money he gave to Trump and the Republican National Committee before he spoke. The total, according to Federal Election Commission records, is just short of $220,000 over the last two election cycles — $150,000 for Trump and $68,900 to the RNC.
It is unusual for a political party to reserve a primetime speaking slot for someone who is both a major contributor and has not held a significant elective office.
Trump praises dictator in segment with freed hostages
In a recorded segment at Monday night’s RNC, President Trump praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while speaking with rescued American hostages, including Andrew Brunson, a pastor who was detained in Turkey — by Erdogan — several years.
"To me, President Erdogan was very good," Trump said at a meeting with hostages released under his administration.
According to Brunson’s Twitter bio he “was accused of being part of a terrorist group, the Gulen movement, and was arrested on October 7, 2016, by Turkey, latter charges of spying were added. Released October 12, 2018.”
Trump has never hid his praise for strongmen, such as Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A window on the real suburbia
A vision of the suburbs on repeat at the RNC Monday night was a crime-free zone of peace, and tranquility populated by white, gun-loving residents.
But the reality of the American suburbs and, by extension, America’s cities is something a bit different. In a series of analyses released by the Pew Research Center in 2018, researchers found that in America’s cities there is, collectively, no racial or ethnic majority. In the suburbs, white Americans make up about 68 percent of residents and Blacks and Latinos together another 25 percent. Immigrants, while still clustered in cities, are a fast-growing part of the population in suburban and rural areas too. What’s more, about 49 percent of immigrants – almost half – live in suburban areas and small cities. About 23 million poor people called the suburbs home before the pandemic. And about 35 percent of suburban residents described addiction as a “major problem” in their community, along with 50 percent of those who live in cities, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey.
The suburbs have changed so much that despite the constant RNC references to suburban utopias — ignoring the racist codicils and redlining that played a huge role in determining who could live where — the Trump campaign has said it is reconsidering this messaging.
About those Nikki Haley VP rumors...
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is speaking Monday at the Republican National Convention.
She will not be joining Donald Trump on the Republican ticket, however, as Vice President Mike Pence was renominated on Monday — squashing many months of rumors over whether Trump would replace his running mate in hopes of attracting new voters.
While speculation on the potential swap was rampant, it was not backed up by substantial reporting.
Fact check: Puerto Ricans are American citizens.
Trump brings up unproven COVID-19 treatments in segment with front-line workers
During a conversation with front-line workers aired during the RNC, President Trump again talked up unproven treatments for COVID-19 — hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc — and implied that partisanship had infected the studies that found hydroxychloroquine to be an ineffective treatment.
Speaking to a detention worker in California who had recovered from COVID-19, Trump asked what doctors have given him as treatment. The worker said he was given a Z-pack, or azithromycin, as well as cough syrup.
“OK, and I won't even ask you about the hydroxychloroquine,” Trump said, while talking with a front-line worker who had contracted the coronavirus and said he’d taken azithromycin. “It's a shame what they've done to that one. But I took it. I took the Z-pack also. And zinc.”
Trump has said he took those medications prophylactically this year, but there is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug often used to treat lupus and rheumatoid diseases, is an effective treatment for coronavirus. Studies around the world have found it to be ineffective or harmful to patients. In June, a slew of studies dampened hopes around the drug's ability; the National Institutes of Health halted a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine after concluding the treatment was “very unlikely” to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Studies have also not found that the drug acts as a prophylactic, either. There’s no evidence that anything other than the scientific method has been inflicted on the study of hydroxychloroquine.
And finally, azithromycin — commonly known as a Z-pack — and zinc have not yet proven to be effective treatments for COVID-19.
A tale of two conventions
Gun waving St. Louis couple says no one will be safe if Biden wins
The first night of the Republican convention was billed as presenting an “optimistic” look at the country. Meanwhile, a gun-waving St. Louis couple who went viral for taking on protesters in front of their home said no one in the U.S. will be safe if Joe Biden wins this fall.
“But in all seriousness, what you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country,” Patricia McCloskey said. “And that’s what we want to speak to you about tonight.”
“These are the policies that are coming to a neighborhood near you,” she added. “So make no mistake: no matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”
Mark and Patricia McCloskey spoke to bolster Donald Trump's rhetoric around ongoing nationwide anti-police brutality protests. Personal injury lawyers, the McCloskeys have since been charged with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon after going viral for their confrontation with protesters in June.
“Not a single person in the out-of-control mob you saw at our house was charged with a crime. But you know who was? We were,” Mark McCloskey said. “They’ve actually charged us with a felony for daring to defend our home.”
In Missouri “it is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest,” St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner has said.
MAGA, can you hear me? Kimberly Guilfoyle gives high-volume speech to empty room
In a forceful speech Monday night that could likely be heard by everyone, Trump surrogate Kimberly Guilfoyle defended the president’s politics and trashed his rivals for impeding his progress.
She said that “this election is a battle for the soul of America,” a phrase also used by the Biden campaign.
"They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal, victim ideology, to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself,” she also said.
The reaction to her speech on social media was largely not about its dark, brooding message but her speaking volume, which may have worked in a crowded conventional hall, not an empty room.
A new contribution to the genre of official Black-friend testimonials
Former football player Herschel Walker took on the now recurrent ritual of attesting to be the Black friend of someone credibly accused of racism. Walker’s contribution to the genre: He said takes it as a personal insult to hear anyone suggest that he would be friends for 37 years with anyone who is a racist.
“It hurts my soul to hear the terrible names that people call Donald,” Walker said. "The worst one is 'racist.' ... People who think that don’t know what they are talking about. Growing up in the Deep South, I have seen racism up close. I know what it is. And it isn’t Donald Trump.”
Trump’s résumé in the racism arena is long. In 1973, the U.S. Justice Department sued Trump Management, then run by Trump and his father, for refusing to rent to Black tenants and operating a system to prevent any such rental agreements. The matter was settled by consent decree in which the Trumps had to meet certain court-monitored conditions. The day that he declared his intention to run for the White House in 2015, Trump falsely described Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and people with “lots of problems,” “bringing drugs” and crime into the country. And in January 2019, during a White House meeting with a bipartisan group of senators, Trump described Haiti and a series of African nations as “shithole countries” sending unwanted immigrants to the U.S. Trump them bemoaned the limited number of immigrants from places like Norway. The list goes on.
Vernon Jones, a Black Democrat and Georgia lawmaker, comes out in support of Trump
Last week’s DNC featured a slew of Republican voices coming out in support of Biden.
The RNC’s answer to that on Monday night was to feature a speech from Vernon Jones, who serves in the Georgia statehouse. Jones ripped into his own party’s leaders (Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer) and touted Trump’s agenda.
"The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave the mental plantation they've had us on for decades,” he said. “But I have news for them: We are free people with free minds."
Jones resisted calls to resign from party leaders. He slammed the direction of the Democratic party and signaled to Black voters to support Trump.
“I’m here to tell you that Black voices are becoming more woke,” Jones said.
St. Louis couple who waved guns at protesters speaks during Republican convention Monday
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who made national news after they were seen waving guns at protesters as demonstrators neared their St. Louis area home in June, are speaking at the Republican National Convention on Monday to further bolster Donald Trump's rhetoric around ongoing nationwide anti-police brutality protests.
The McCloskeys, who are both personal injury lawyers, have each since been charged with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last month, the couple is "almost always in conflict with others, typically over control of private property, what people can do on that property, and whose job it is to make sure they do it."
The incident was the subject of scorn on the left while gun rights advocates and conservative media hailed the two as heroes for their actions.
Jim Jordan seeks to promote Trump's 'empathy' after DNC zeroes in on Biden quality
After blasting Democrats, Rep. Jim Jordan sought to paint Donald Trump as an empathetic leader — a quality Democrats spent days promoting in Joe Biden at their convention last week.
Jordan discussed how Trump connected with his family after a nephew died in a car accident two years ago.
"For the next five minutes, family and friends sat in complete silence, as the president of the United States took time to talk to a dad who was hurting," Jordan said. "That’s the president I know."
Fact check: Republicans claim Democrats want to defund the police. Biden isn't in favor.
Republican speakers made misleading claims about calls from some politicians to reform or defund the police during the first night of the RNC.
“The police aren’t coming when you call in Democrat-run cities. They’re already being defunded, disbanded. Blaming our best and allowing society's worst? That's the story they write in Hollywood,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said in his remarks.
“Democrats spent a lot of time talking about how much they despise our president. But we heard very little about their actual policies. Policies that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. Policies like banning fossil fuels, eliminating private health insurance, taxpayer-funded health care for people who come here illegally, and defunding the police,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said shortly after, referring to last week's Democratic National Convention.
While there are some on the left who have embraced calls to cut police funding, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are not among them. Biden says he supports adding funding for local police forces and using more psychologists and social workers to do police work. The official Democratic Party platform, approved last week, does not include any references to defunding the police.
Asked recently by ABC News if he supports defunding the police, Biden said “No, I don’t.”
There are some cities run by Democratic mayors that have sought to reduce police funding — New York City shifted $1 billion in funding out of the police budget — and some, like Minneapolis, have considered a fundamental rethinking of policing. But that doesn't mean Americans have been left without police. New York City’s police still has a $5 billion operating budget. Efforts to disband the Minneapolis police through a ballot initiative have so far failed.
Trump revives racist term when talking about coronavirus
When President Trump spoke to a group of essential workers, some of whom survived COVID-19, in a maskless, not-so-socially-distanced meeting at the White House he revived a racist term for the virus.
"I'm for the nurses. I'm for the doctors. I'm for everybody. We just have to make this China virus go away and it's happening,” Trump said in a segment.
Despite being criticized for using it and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, Trump continues to use the phrase in press conferences and on Twitter.
Trump hosts a group chat that echoes Biden's from last week
In one of President Trump's first prime-time convention appearances, he spoke in a recorded segment from the White House with a handful of people on the front lines of the coronavirus battle including nurses, police officers and postal workers.
The segment echoed Biden's video roundtables from last week, which were done through video chats rather than in person.
Republicans play misleading video praising Trump's coronavirus response
A video played at the Republican National Convention tonight mocked Democrats and experts for their early remarks and analysis on the coronavirus and praised President Trump as the only leader who took quick and decisive action.
But the video left out any reference to Trump's own remarks from January through early March on the virus, during which he was downplaying entirely whether the country faced any threat from it.
“We have it totally under control,” Trump said in January. “It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
In fact, Trump continued to downplay the virus and recommendations from health experts on how to stop the spread. Experts told NBC News recently that the administration's mixed messaging on masks cost lives.
Welcome to the RNC. This is Trump Country.
In the first minutes of the RNC, early hints of its overarching themes emerged: Republicans are the only real and loyal Americans; they love Trump, support capitalism, and believe that Trump has done more for Black and Latino Americans than anyone else, especially that 1994 crime bill architect, Joe Biden.
And, here to tell you about it: a smattering of people of color and mostly white Americans in public office who approve of the content of the Trump presidency or campaign. There are also private citizens who came to national notoriety for assorted displays of insensitivity or racism, such as the St. Louis couple who pointed guns at peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, and several people who are known for defying the scientific consensus about the spread of the coronavirus.
Coronavirus counterprogramming from Dems
The Democratic National Committee is using a projector to counterprogram the Republican convention, turning the wall of a nearby building into a giant screen to attack Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Fox cuts off RNC chair McDaniel
Matt Gaetz throws red meat to base, knocks Democratic 'woketopians'
Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who is one of Donald Trump’s most loyal congressional backers, filled a speech with anti-Biden jokes and outlandish claims about Democrats.
Gaetz criticized what he deemed “woketopians” in the Democratic Party and claimed Democrats “will disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door. And the defunded police aren’t on their way.”
Blasting Biden for campaigning from home during the pandemic, labeling him “basement-dwelling Joe Biden,” Gaetz spent much of the speech launching attacks on Democrats while praising Trump for having a mind “as powerful as any brick and mortar.”
DNC offers some counterprogramming in Washington
Kim Klacik, a Black Republican, gets a national debut at RNC
Republican congressional candidate Kim Klacik, a nonprofit founder and member of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, was one of the first group of speakers on Monday night.
Klacik went viral this month and got the attention of President Trump when she released a campaign ad of her marching through streets of vacant houses in Baltimore and placing the blame for the city’s issues squarely on Democratic leadership — an oft-repeated Trump-ism.
"The Democrats have controlled my city, Charm City, for over 50 years and they have run this beautiful place into the ground," she said in her speech.
Klacik, who is Black, is running for a House seat she is unlikely to win — it’s a blue district that Elijah Cummings represented for more than 20 years until his death in 2019. Nevertheless, her speedy rise to prominence may signal a future in the national party, which struggles with attracting Black support.
Pompeo to address RNC in unprecedented appearance for America’s top diplomat
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a defender of the president, will address the RNC but it will be in his personal capacity, a senior administration official told NBC News Monday.
“No State Department resources will be used. Staff are not involved in preparing the remarks or in the arrangements for Secretary Pompeo's appearance,” the official said. “The State Department will not bear any costs in conjunction with this appearance.”
However, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, raised serious questions about his appearance, saying in a Monday statement that two internal State Department documents suggest Pompeo “will violate legal restrictions on political activities” by appearing. (The Hatch Act prohibits government employees from engaging in certain political activity.)
Traditionally, Secretaries of State abstain from politics, and there is no example of a sitting Secretary of State speaking at a political nominating convention in modern American politics. Pompeo is traveling abroad in Israel and will most likely tape his remarks.
Who is Charlie Kirk? Conservative provocateur speaks first at RNC
Charlie Kirk is the first speaker on Monday's RNC program.
A 26-year-old conservative activist, Kirk founded Turning Points USA, a conservative nonprofit, when he was 18 and has become one of the biggest rising stars in the Republican Party. He often does outreach to other youth groups and young adults to join the conservative movement.
Kirk is an ardent Trump supporter, and the president has spoken at Kirk’s organization a number of times. He has often amplified some of the president’s debunked conspiracy theories, such as those about the coronavirus and Chinese spying.
Opening RNC video features actor Jon Voight
The opening video of the RNC featured a familiar voice: Jon Voight.
Voight is one of the most outspoken Republicans in Hollywood and has been a staunch supporter of President Trump. Voight regularly posts videos to his Twitter feed extolling Trump and urging voters to support him.
Trump Jr. speech was pre-taped
Donald Trump Jr.'s speech was expected to be live, but a source familiar with the matter says he recorded it earlier Monday.
President Trump criticized the DNC last week for using pretaped remarks.
Trump to appear with rescued hostages tonight
A campaign official says President Trump will make a taped appearance during the convention tonight with six hostages rescued during his administration.
They are expected to be:
Michael White: A U.S. Navy veteran who was arrested in July 2018 while visiting his girlfriend in Iran. White was the first American to be detained in Iran since President Trump took office. Released June 4, after 683 days in captivity.
Sam Goodwin: A world traveler who entered northern Syria from Iraq on May 25, 2019. He encountered a regime checkpoint and was taken into custody for failure to have a visa. Released on July 26, 2019.
Andrew Brunson: A pastor, Brunson was accused of being part of a terrorist group, the Gulen movement, and was arrested on Oct. 7, 2016, by Turkey; charges of spying were later added. Released on Oct. 12, 2018.
Joshua and Tamara Holt: Arrested in Venezuela shortly after their wedding and accused of stockpiling weapons. Released on March 26, 2018.
Bryan Nerran: A pastor, Nerran was arrested on Oct. 5, 2019, by the Indian government for having $40,000 without declaring it. Released May 15.
Michael Cohen says Trump 'can't be trusted' in ad for Democratic group
Michael Cohen, President Trump's former fixer, will appear in a series of anti-Trump ads to warn voters not to trust the president.
In the first of such ads, cut by the Democratic group American Bridge 21st Century, Cohen says that Trump "can’t be trusted — and you shouldn’t believe a word he utters."
"So when you watch the president this week, remember this. If he says something is huge, it’s probably small," he says. "If he says something will work, it probably won’t. And if he says he cares about you and your family, he certainly does not."
He said Trump's promotion of "law and order" is "laughable" because "virtually everyone who worked for his campaign has been convicted of a crime or is under indictment — myself included."
"So when the president gets in front of the cameras this week, remember that he thinks we are all gullible, a bunch of fools," he said. "I was a part of it. And I fell for it. You don’t have to like me. But please, listen to me."
Watch the ad below:
Trump calls Biden 'crazy' for saying he'd shut down country to control virus if scientists deemed it necessary
Donald Trump called Joe Biden "ridiculous" for saying he would shut down the country if scientists deemed it necessary to control the virus.
"Joe Biden has said he would lock down the Country again. That’s crazy!" Trump tweeted. "We’re having record job growth and a booming stock market, but Joe would end it all and close it all down. Ridiculous!"
In an interview with ABC News, Biden said he is "prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus."
If scientists deemed a shutdown necessary, Biden said, "I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists.”
The virus has so far killed more than 175,000 Americans.
RNC chair offers a backstage look
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted a backstage look at herself next to someone she said was President Trump ... but his back is to the camera.
RNC kicks off without a new party platform
The Republicans' convention kicked off on Monday without a new party platform. Over the weekend, the RNC formalized a resolution stating there will be no platform until 2024 but that the Republican Party "has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda."
"The RNC enthusiastically supports President Trump and continues to reject the policy positions of the Obama-Biden Administration, as well as those espoused by the Democratic National Committee today; therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda," the resolution said.
Biden, Harris to get routine virus testing, a notable change
In a notable change, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, will now be regularly tested for the coronavirus as the race heats up, a campaign aide confirmed Monday.
“This announcement is another step demonstrating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ commitment to turn the page on Trump’s catastrophic mismanagement during the worst public health crisis in 100 years,” said Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates.
Bates declined to comment Monday when asked if Biden had been tested yet, though deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said Sunday that he hadn't been.
A campaign aide said the decision to move forward with regular testing was based on the recommendations of the campaign’s medical advisers. It comes as the candidate and his running mate are expected to ramp up in-person campaigning in the final 10 weeks of the election.
Trump's campaign to argue America under threat by Democrats
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a Missouri couple who gained national attention when they pointed guns as Black Lives Matter protesters marching past their home, will argue "radical leftists" are trying to take over America.
“Democrats no longer view the government’s job as protecting honest citizens from criminals, but rather protecting criminals from honest citizens," they will say, according to Trump's campaign.
The McCloskeys are one strand in the backdrop for Trump's convention: an America in turmoil. The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage after a summer punctuated by protests calling for an end to racial injustice. This week, the nation is also grappling with duel natural threats from wildfires in California and a pair of hurricanes in the Gulf.
The president enters his convention trailing Joe Biden in the polls, and he faces a torrent of criticism for his administration's handling of the pandemic. This week's convention will be his most aggressive attempt yet to turn the national sentiment in his favor.
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Trump campaign wanted Kellyanne Conway back but she decided against it
The Trump campaign was eagerly courting Kellyanne Conway to come back and join the re-elect effort this fall, according to two people familiar with the matter, but she declined due to family obligations. Campaign officials had discussed her potentially moving over and traveling ahead of November as a major surrogate but she determined that grueling schedule would be too tough on her four teenage children.
Conway, one of President Trump's longest-serving advisers, will officially depart the White House next week. She is still expected to deliver her address at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday.
Conway is expected to continue to advise the president in an unofficial and informal capacity after she leaves. Conway was Trump's campaign manager for the final months of the 2016 cycle and she has appeared at several 2020 events since then in her personal capacity.
Republican voters in Florida explain why they're voting for Biden
4 things to watch for on Night 1
While he's trailing Joe Biden in every national poll as well as in key battleground states in recent surveys, advisers and allies say that Donald Trump is in a better place than he was in 2016, and that internal polling shows the race tightening in a sign their attacks on Biden have been working. Key to their pitch going forward will be trying to convince the country that things are on the upswing because of Trump's efforts, said aides inside and outside of the campaign.
Republicans say they are aiming to boost voters’ attitudes about the state of the nation with their convention this week, in hopes those feelings will carry over to their assessment of whether Trump deserves another four years in office.
"I think we are in a much stronger position than the public polls would indicate," said Brian Walsh, president of the pro-Trump Super PAC America First, who said he's looking for Trump to use the convention to lay out his vision for the next four years and contrasting that to Biden's. "We always believed the race would be close, and we still believe so today."
Delegates cheer Trump's appearance during first day
Biden hits Trump's 'failed leadership' ahead of RNC speeches
Joe Biden released a statement ahead of Monday night's convention events.
"Last week, voters heard about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' commitment to stand up for all Americans and their vision for overcoming this moment of crisis that Donald Trump's failed leadership has severely worsened — by building back better with historic investments in American competitiveness and our middle class," he said.
"What they will hear from Donald Trump this week are the last things our country needs: more desperate, wild-eyed lies and toxic division in vain attempts to distract from his mismanagement," he added. "What they won't hear is what American families have urgently needed and been forced to go without for over seven consecutive months: any coherent strategy for defeating the pandemic."
New York state prosecutor confirms Trump Organization civil probe
The president's son Eric Trump has refused to comply with a subpoena in a New York state prosecutor's investigation of the Trump Organization, court documents revealed Monday.
President Trump's entire private business entity has yet to comply with subpoenas from New York Attorney General Letitia James, James said in court documents.
New filings showed that James' investigation is based, in part, on former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress and seeks to learn whether financial filings for the president's businesses were inflated or deflated to obtain loans or reduce potential taxes.
Eric Trump, who is set to address the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, responded by saying, "Without any basis, the NYAG has pledged to take my father down from the moment she ran for office. This is the highest level of prosecutorial misconduct — purposely dropped on the eve of the Republican Convention for political points. Sad that this is her focus as New York burns."
Postmaster general denies political influence as House questions mail delays
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the House Oversight Committee Monday and grew increasingly defensive as Democrats asked pointed questions about delayed U.S. Postal Service mail delivery.
DeJoy denied that policies he implemented had a major effect on mail delivery times, stating that all he had done was reshuffle the organization and attempt to have the Postal Service trucks run on schedule. He said many changes, such as the removal of blue collection boxes and mail sorting machines, preceded his taking the post on June 15.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, presented an internal Postal Service document, which appeared to have been prepared for DeJoy on Aug. 12, that showed an 8 to 10 percent drop in on-time mail deliveries since early July.
She emphasized that DeJoy, a former logistics executive, was in charge during this collapse in service, but DeJoy refused to take sole responsibility for the slow down. "There are a lot of reasons for delays besides the action I took to run your trucks on time," he said. "There are other reasons for delays in the nation."
The House passed a bill on Saturday authorizing $25 billion in emergency funds for the Postal Service. While it gained some support from House Republicans, it is expected to be met with opposition in the Senate.
Fact check: Trump falsely claims he ‘protected pre-existing conditions’
On the first day of the RNC, Donald Trump inaccurately told a crowd in Charlotte, N.C., that he has “strongly protected pre-existing conditions” while in office.
“We strongly protected your pre-existing conditions. We got rid of the horrible mandate,” he said Monday, referring to his 2017 tax law that zeroed out the penalty for not carrying insurance. “Every Republican is sworn to protecting your pre-existing condition. You won't hear that.”
In fact, Trump has pursued legislation, litigation and executive actions that would weaken pre-existing condition protections, which were set up under the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
The president championed legislation in 2017 to undo the ACA and allow states to obtain waivers from rules that bar insurers from charging more to people with a prior illness. (The effort passed the House but stalled in the Senate.)
Trump’s administration is currently backing a lawsuit led by Republican attorneys general that would wipe out the Affordable Care Act, including its pre-existing condition protections. He has not offered an alternative plan to restore them. And Trump has expanded the use of short-term plans that are cheaper and not required to cover pre-existing health conditions.
'Today is about four more years': Pence speaks after being renominated by RNC
Biden campaign to air new spot across cable channels during RNC
WASHINGTON — Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign announced Monday that it will air a new television spot contrasting Biden's vision for the United States with President Trump's presidency on cable airwaves during the Republican National Convention as part of a $26 million ad campaign this week across broadcast, cable, radio and digital platforms.
The 60-second spot, entitled, "Heal America," argues that the United States needs a team that's "up to the task" of handling the four simultaneous crises plaguing the nation — public health, economic, climate, and racial injustice.
"Together, they'll lead America, unite America and heal America. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris: because a united America will be a better America," the ad narrator concludes.
Biden creates 'safe harbor' for renegade Republicans who've dumped Trump
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden is trying hard to win over disaffected Republicans — can it work in such a polarized country?
All four nights of last week's Democratic National Convention featured prominent refugee Republicans speaking against President Donald Trump and in favor of the Democratic presidential nominee. And this week, to coincide with the GOP convention, Biden's team is launching a Republicans for Biden effort led by former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and other former GOP lawmakers.
Rather than banking on the vaunted Obama coalition of millennials, young women and non-white voters to power him to the White House, Biden is seeking to convert some historically GOP-leaning constituencies as Trump shows softness in support with white college grads and seniors.
"For Biden's convention to feature famous Republicans supporting Biden is intended to send the message that he is a unifying figure and that his opponent is so extreme that members of his own party have fled," said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian for NBC News.
Flake explains backing Biden as 'someone who will stop the chaos and reverse the damage'
More than two-dozen former Republican members of Congress, including ex-Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, endorsed Joe Biden for president on Monday, hours ahead of the Republican National Convention.
Flake explained why he will vote for Biden and not for Donald Trump in a live video on several social media platforms.
"Today, given what we have experienced over the past four years, it's not enough just to register our disapproval of the president," Flake said. "We need to elect someone else in his place — someone who will stop the chaos and reverse the damage."
Among the list of Republicans supporting Biden are Flake, former Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, and former Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Ray LaHood of Illinois, who also served as transportation secretary under former President Barack Obama.
Trump alleges Democrats are trying to 'steal the election'
Donald Trump said Monday in Charlotte that Democrats are “trying to steal the election” in November by expanding access to mail-in ballots.
Speaking to GOP delegates who formally nominated him as their party’s pick for president, Trump said that Democrats are “trying to steal the election” and falsely claimed that the Obama administration tried to steal the 2016 election with “spying.”
Delegates at the convention center chanted “four more years,” and Trump responded, “If you really want to drive them crazy, say ‘12 more years.’”
“This is the most important election in the history of our country,” Trump said. “Our country can go in a horrible, horrible direction or an even greater direction.”
Trump said that he felt he had an obligation to be at the convention and slammed Joe Biden for not attending the Democratic National Convention last week in Milwaukee.
"They didn't go there at all... We did this out of respect for your state,” Trump said.
'Eerie': Republicans convene in a near-empty uptown Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Political celebrities and cable news stars were supposed to fill the streets. Hotels thought they would hit capacity. Rooftop bars expected to book up with late-night parties, and nearby restaurants anticipated an endless crush of customers. There were plans for live music concerts and fireworks.
Instead, uptown Charlotte, the official home of the 2020 Republican National Convention, was nearly deserted as the meeting to formally nominate President Donald Trump as the GOP presidential nominee kicked off Monday morning.
On the eve of the convention, restaurants around the Charlotte Convention Center remained closed. Street signs and storefronts, which would normally be covered in RNC signage, displayed social distancing guidelines. A truck with an anti-Trump billboard in its bed drove around the uptown area, but aside from a few reporters and police officers, no one was there to see it. A few scattered demonstrations took place around the city ahead of the event — but as Republicans arrived in the uptown area, there were no protesters in sight.
"It is a very eerie feeling," said Vinay Patel, principal at SREE Hotels, which includes 12 hotels in the Charlotte area, adding that all of those hotels had been contracted with the RNC.
Trump officially becomes Republican nominee in 2020 race after delegates’ roll call
CHARLOTTE — Donald Trump officially became the Republican Party’s presidential nominee Monday after a scaled-down group of delegates gathered for a roll-call vote at the Charlotte Convention Center.
“I want to thank you for the honor of this day,” Vice President Mike Pence said just before Trump went over the 1,276 delegate threshold needed to win the nomination. “I am here for one reason and one reason only, and that is not just the Republican Party, but America needs four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House.”
Trump and Pence were traveling on an official White House trip to North Carolina on Monday, making a surprise visit to the Republican National Convention.
Roll call on Trump nomination begins
The convention has begun taking the state-by-state roll call vote on President Donald Trump's renomination.
Ronna McDaniel called for the state roll call to begin in alphabetical order, with the exception of Florida, Trump’s newly adopted home state.
It is tradition for the candidate’s home state to be the one to officially push them over the delegate threshold needed to win the nomination. In this case, that is 1,276 delegates out of 2,550.
Just 336 delegates were invited to participate in the in-person roll call in Charlotte, six from each state and territory. Delegates were asked to wear face masks while inside the Charlotte Convention Center and attendees were asked to get tested for the coronavirus before traveling to Charlotte. Each person was to receive another test upon arrival.
North Carolina officials granted the RNC an exception to the 10-person cap on indoor activities. Just a few reporters were invited to the convention floor in an effort to promote social distancing.
Fireworks approved for National Mall after Trump's final convention speech
Fireworks are expected to go off over the National Mall in Washington on Thursday for the final night of the convention.
A permit has been issued that approved the fireworks that Republicans want to launch, Mike Litterst, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, said Monday. They're expected to go off after Donald Trump delivers his final convention speech from the White House South Lawn.
NPS said that the Republican National Committee will have to reimburse all costs.
"The applicant is responsible for production of the event and all associated costs. Additionally, per policy, the National Park Service will recover from the RNC all costs incurred as a result of the activity, including NPS administrative costs for permit preparation and management of the event, and monitoring of the activity to ensure compliance with the conditions of the permit," Litterst said in a statement.
Fact Check: Delegate repeats misleading Trump claim Dems omitted "under God" during pledge
A Republican delegate from Alaska, Peter Goldberg, slammed Democrats as the convention kicked off Monday, restating a misleading claim by President Donald Trump that Democrats omitted the words "under God" from the pledge of allegiance at their convention last week.
"That could not, would not, ever happen here," Goldberg said before he recited the pledge.
"We know as Republicans that America must put its full faith and trust in that God," he said.
Democrats, however, read the entire pledge of allegiance, including the words "under God," during the prime-time segments of the convention each night last week. There were two caucus meetings, the Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly and the LGBTQ Caucus meeting, according to the Associated Press, that left out those words during their daytime meetings.
RNC meets in Charlotte to officially nominate Trump
Republican delegates are meeting in a scaled-down convention this morning to officially nominate President Donald Trump as the party’s presidential candidate against Joe Biden in the November election.
"We are obviously disappointed we could not hold this event in the same way we had originally planned," Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said as she gaveled in the convention.
McDaniel hinted that “special guests” could stop by the Charlotte Convention Center later in the day. Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are scheduled to make official trips to North Carolina today.
Jeff Flake, other former GOP Congress members endorse Biden ahead of RNC
More than two-dozen former Republican members of Congress, including ex-Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, endorsed Joe Biden for president on Monday, hours ahead of the Republican National Convention.
Biden’s presidential campaign announced the list of endorsements in a press release. Flake was expected to speak to reporters later in the day about why he has chosen to support the former vice president.
Among the list of Republicans supporting Biden are Flake, former Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, and former Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Ray LaHood of Illinois, who also served as transportation secretary under former President Barack Obama.
Trump names improving economy, school choice among his second term priorities
President Donald Trump said in a new interview that he plans to focus on improving the economy in his second term and also emphasized the importance of school choice.
“I would strengthen what we’ve done, and I would do more,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News that taped Friday and aired Sunday night.
Trump claimed that Democrats are intentionally taking steps to hurt the economy, saying they're doing "anything they can to make the economy as bad as possible, but they’re having a tough time with it because the economy’s so good.”
Asked about whether he plans to moderate his tone if he's re-elected, the president said, “I’d like it to be calm too. If I change my attitude, I wouldn’t get nearly as many things done.”
The president's 2020 re-election campaign also sent out a list of items on his second-term agenda on Sunday, but the priorities were vague and didn't explain how he would accomplish certain goals like "create 10 million new jobs in 10 months” and “return to normal in 2021."
ANALYSIS: Trump's Republican convention challenge: Overcoming the trust gap
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump heads into the Republican National Convention needing to make the greatest sales pitch of his life.
He trails Democratic nominee Joe Biden in national and swing-state polling, voters give him low marks for his handling of a coronavirus pandemic that has taken more than 170,000 American lives and led tens of millions to file for unemployment insurance this year, and his lofty plans for a major international peace accord — like a nuclear deal with North Korea — have disintegrated.
His onetime aces in the hole have vanished, one by one. His plot to extort Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Biden resulted in his own impeachment. The economy, his strongest political asset just six months ago, has been roughed up by his response to the coronavirus. And, rather than strengthening the nation's global position, his trade war with China has pummeled elements of his still-loyal base.
Spruced-up White House Rose Garden set for Melania Trump speech
WASHINGTON — The White House Rose Garden has been spruced up in time for its moment in the campaign spotlight.
First lady Melania Trump will deliver her Republican National Convention speech Tuesday night from the garden, famous for its close proximity to the Oval Office. The three weeks of work on the garden, which was done in the spirit of its original 1962 design, were showcased to reporters on Saturday.
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.
White House transforms from people's house to campaign venue
WASHINGTON — Several rows of stage lights could be seen peeking above the colonial style windows of the West Wing when the sun rose Friday as the atmosphere of the White House began to transition, for the first time, into a purely political venue.
Behind the scenes this past week, campaign and convention staffers began work on the White House South Lawn setting up lights, speakers and a stage that would be used for President Donald Trump to deliver his acceptance speech as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Trucks brought in long metal poles and beams, and construction equipment was set up adjacent to the Rose Garden.
It is unprecedented in modern politics for the White House to be used as the site of an explicitly political event, with past presidents maintaining some boundaries between the office of the presidency and their re-election bids.
Trump has been smashing those norms for months — attacking Democratic rival Joe Biden from the Rose Garden and playing campaign-style videos in the White House briefing room — but his prime-time convention address will represent the most blatant blurring of the lines yet.