2020 Republican National Convention

Live Updates And Analysis


The lines between official duty and campaigning further blurred on Night 2 of the Republican National Convention:

  • First lady Melania Trump shared her own experience as an immigrant in the “land of opportunity” from the White House Rose Garden.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke in a “personal capacity” while on a taxpayer-funded trip to Jerusalem.
  • President Trump once again added reality show flourishes to the convention.

Read more highlights from Tuesday night below.

Highlights From Night 2: Republican Leaders Vouch For Trump-Led Policies

On Night 2 of the Republican National Convention, President Trump made appearances in several TV-ready emotional moments from the White House, taking part in a naturalization ceremony and issuing a full pardon. Questions remain over the ethics of hosting convention events at the White House and additional government properties, even as the administration insists it is following the law.

The evening programming also featured speeches that promoted Trump-led policies, particularly on economics. Larry Kudlow, the White House’s chief economic adviser, praised Trump’s handling of the economy and notably described the pandemic’s economic effect in the past tense.

The night also featured remarks from younger Republicans, including Nick Sandmann, who was in a controversial viral video last year. “ ‘Canceled’ is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left,” Sandmann said.

Trump’s daughter Tiffany Trump hit on similar themes, criticizing tech companies and media organizations for “promoting a biased and fabricated view.”

The president’s son Eric Trump mirrored his father’s rhetoric on the culture wars, saying, “The Democrats want an America where your thoughts and opinions are censored when they do not align with their own.”

The night ended with a speech from first lady Melania Trump. Trump, unlike most speakers Tuesday night, acknowledged those grieving or affected by the coronavirus. “Many people are anxious,” she said.

The first lady also spoke about the unrest over racism and police brutality in the country. “It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history,” she said. “Stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice.”

For analysis and a post-convention recap every day this week, be sure to subscribe to The NPR Politics Podcast.

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‘People Are Anxious’: Melania Trump Takes On Pandemic, Racial Injustice Protests

Addressing the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, first lady Melania Trump made the case that President Trump is determined to work hard to improve the country in a second term. In her 25-minute keynote outside the White House, she directly addressed two of the biggest political crises facing her husband as he campaigns for a second term — the coronavirus pandemic and protests against police brutality and racial discrimination.

Melania Trump started her longest speech as first lady by expressing sympathy for people who lost loved ones to COVID-19 or are suffering from the virus, acknowledging that “many people are anxious.” That stood in contrast to many other convention speakers, who sidestepped the pandemic or sought to put the crisis in the past tense.

And she urged Americans to come together in difficult times, to reflect on racism and learn from it, without casting recent protests in overtly political terms. “It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history,” Melania Trump said. “Stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice.”

Speaking directly into the camera to “mothers of this country,” she said she shared their concerns about social media and use of technology. She spoke in front of about 100 guests, including White House officials and members of Trump’s Cabinet, in the Rose Garden, which was recently refurbished.

Watch the speech below, and read more here.

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Daniel Cameron, Ky. Attorney General In Spotlight Over Breonna Taylor Investigation, Assails Joe Biden

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron called Joe Biden “a backwards thinker in a world craving forward-looking leadership” and said that the Democratic presidential nominee does not inspire excitement.

During his remarks, Cameron assailed the former vice president’s comments to a radio host that Black voters who were torn between voting for him and President Trump “ain’t Black,” remarks that Biden ultimately backtracked on.

“Mr. Vice President, look at me. I am Black,” Cameron said, addressing Biden directly. “We are not all the same, sir. I am not in chains. My mind is my own, and you can’t tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin.”

Cameron was elected as Kentucky’s attorney general in 2019 and is the first Black person to have been elected to that office in the state. He is also the first Republican attorney general to be elected in the state of Kentucky in more than 70 years. He is a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and served as his legal counsel in Washington, D.C., from 2015 to 2017.

He has drawn the ire of protesters who have been demanding charges against the police officers responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor this year. Her killing has been one of the focal points in a national reckoning over police brutality and systemic racism.

He is responsible for deciding whether three Louisville, Ky., police officers will be charged for their actions in Taylor’s shooting death. Cameron tweeted this week that his office did not plan any announcements regarding Taylor’s case this week.

“We continue to pursue the facts in this case through an independent and thorough investigation,” he wrote.

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Secretary Of State Pompeo Breaks Norm With Convention Speech

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo broke a long-standing norm for secretaries of state this evening when he mixed politics with his diplomacy by speaking to the Republican National Convention while on a taxpayer-funded trip to the Middle East.

In his remarks, he touted the work of the Trump administration, saying his family members “are more safe and their freedoms more secure because President Trump has put his America First vision into action. It may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it has worked.”

“This president has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world,” Pompeo added, citing efforts in China, North Korea and the Middle East.

He taped the message from Jerusalem, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and praised the recent agreement to formalize diplomatic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

But the announcement to give the remarks, which he made over his personal Twitter account, immediately raised concerns about whether he was violating a U.S. law that prohibits public servants from spending their time working on political campaigns.

The State Department told NPR’s Michele Kelemen that Pompeo was speaking in his “personal capacity.”

“Staff are not involved in preparing the remarks or in the arrangements for Secretary Pompeo’s appearance,” the department said in a statement. “The State Department will not bear any costs in conjunction with this appearance.”

Still, the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s panel on oversight today informed the State Department that it was launching an investigation into Pompeo’s RNC speech.

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Speakers Bondi And Nuñez Underscore Florida’s Electoral Importance

Prime-time speaking slots tonight for former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and current Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (above) underscored just how important the state is to President Trump’s reelection effort.

Nuñez talked about her parents’ decision to flee communist Cuba for the United States and, like several other RNC speakers, sought to tie Democratic policies to the socialism and communism that the Castro regime implemented in Cuba.

“Let me assure you: Socialism doesn’t offer opportunity. Socialism deprives. It is a falsehood that feigns promises for its masses and consistently yields only misery,” she said. (See our fact check on socialism here.)

Despite Joe Biden’s long reputation as a relatively moderate, mainstream Democrat, the Trump campaign is working to tie him to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other prominent self-avowed democratic socialists.

For her part, Bondi, who served as one of Trump’s defense lawyers in this year’s Senate impeachment trial, spent most of her speech attacking the former vice president and his son, Hunter. (Trump was impeached by the House for encouraging Ukraine’s president to investigate Hunter Biden and the gas company he served on the board of. The Senate acquitted the president.)

Florida, which Trump declared last year as his main state of residence, has played a starring role in presidential politics for a generation. Since 2000, it has not only been a critical battleground state but a critical battleground state that’s often decided by razor-thin margins.

After Trump won Florida in 2016 and then Republicans won Senate and gubernatorial races in an otherwise Democratic-dominated election two years later, many Democrats saw Florida as a bit of a lost cause. Democrats put more focus on the three Rust Belt states that Trump flipped to take the presidency — Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin — and viewed Arizona and North Carolina as more likely second-tier pickup opportunities.

But poll after poll this summer has given Biden a sustained lead over Trump in the Sunshine State, to the point that NPR now rates Florida as a state that is now “lean Democratic.” RealClearPolitics’ polling average has Biden up nearly 5 points.

Most Florida political veterans expect the state to revert to its usual close margins in the fall. But both campaigns have taken notice and are pouring advertising into the state. Politico reported today that spending on presidential ads in Florida has already topped 2016 totals.

A big reason for Biden’s polling leads in Florida: He is running even — or slightly ahead — with older voters in many polls. Voters over 65 traditionally break big for Republicans, and they backed Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by an estimated 7 points nationwide. But as Trump has struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic — which puts older people at a much greater risk of serious illness or death — Biden has suddenly become much more competitive with a demographic that plays a key role in Florida.

As Trump showed in 2016, there are many paths to the 270 electoral votes a candidate needs to win the White House. But Florida is as close to a must-win as it gets for Trump this year. If Biden were to win back Florida and just one of the three states formerly known as the Blue Wall, Trump will be returning to his new home state in January.

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Eric Trump, Helping Run Trump Organization, Hails Father’s Business Acumen

President Trump’s second son, Eric Trump, addressed the Republican National Convention on its second day to make the case for how he said his father has supported American workers.

Eric Trump, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, has been one of the president’s more vocal surrogates, along with his two older siblings, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

“My father ran not because he needed the job but because he knew hardworking people across this great country were being left behind,” Eric Trump said. “Every day, my father fights for the American people. The forgotten men and women of this country. The ones who embody the American spirit, which is unlike anything else in the world.”

Eric was the second Trump to address the RNC on Tuesday evening and the third overall, as Republicans sought to humanize the president and portray what they say is a diverse coalition. Tiffany Trump, the president’s youngest daughter, talked earlier in the evening. First lady Melania Trump, the president’s wife, is scheduled to address the convention from the White House Rose Garden later in the evening.

Eric Trump also picked up the convention’s theme in attacking the Democrats’ presidential nominee.

“Most politicians spend their entire careers in Washington, D.C., and get absolutely nothing accomplished. For example: Joe Biden. Joe Biden is a politician who has been in government for 47 years,” Eric Trump said. “He is a career politician who has never signed the front of a check and does not know the slightest thing about the American worker or the American business — the engine which fuels the greatest economy the world has ever known.”

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Bondi, Defender During Impeachment, Cites Alleged Biden Misdeeds

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was one of President Trump’s defense attorneys in his impeachment trial in the Senate, and tonight she repeated some of the allegations made there about Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Hunter Biden was paid for a time by a Ukrainian gas company during the same period that his father, then-Vice President Biden, was handling the eastern European portfolio for President Barack Obama. The basis of the Ukraine affair was Trump’s desire for Ukrainian officials to appear to be investigating the Bidens’ dealings there and for there to appear to be some impropriety that Trump and Republicans could use during the presidential campaign.

Trump and other officials told their Ukrainian interlocutors that military aid authorized by Congress would be contingent upon announcements they wanted about the Bidens. Although the aid was held up for a time, ultimately it was released with none of the guarantees that Trump and others sought. Democrats called this an abuse of the president’s power and impeached Trump in the House. Republicans used their majority in the Senate to preserve him.

Although authorities have concluded that no laws were broken by Hunter Biden during his subplot, the elder Biden was embarrassed — and Republicans have relished talking more broadly about the younger Biden’s reputation as a ne’er-do-well who sought to profit off the doors he believed he could open in Washington and about his struggles with drug abuse.

Bondi also said on Tuesday that there were other examples of what she called improper dealings involving Biden’s family.

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Police Officer Who Adopted Drug-Dependent Baby Speaks About Opioid Epidemic

Albuquerque, N.M., policeman Ryan Holets praised President Trump in prepared remarks for his actions to combat the nation’s opioid crisis.

“I hold a special place in my heart for those facing opioid addiction. And 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,” Holets said.

Holets and his family first made news in December 2017 when they were featured in a CNN story. That year, Holets had been on patrol when he was called to investigate a possible convenience store robbery. There, he found a couple about to shoot up heroin. The woman, Crystal, was pregnant, and Holets and his wife, Rebecca, ended up adopting her baby when she was born.

“Today, our beautiful daughter, Hope, is a thriving 2-year-old. Crystal is fast approaching three years of recovery. She is a dear friend and a constant inspiration to me and others,” he said Tuesday night.

Holets raised $25,000 with a GoFundMe site to help Hope’s parents as they battled addiction.

This isn’t the first time Trump has featured their story. He highlighted the couple in his 2018 State of the Union address, in which he described the fateful meeting behind a convenience store.

“In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him,” Trump said at the time. “He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife, Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt.”

Trump added that the couple embodies “the goodness of our nation.”

In October 2017, Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. That year 70,237 people in the United States died of drug overdoses, the majority of them killed by either prescription or illicit opioids.

After falling slightly in 2018, last year the number of people who died from overdoses was 70,980 — which is to say, the problem hasn’t been solved. Holets’ role at the convention was to highlight the Trump administration’s work addressing the crisis.

A spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department didn’t respond to a request for comment from NPR, but department spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told the Albuquerque Journal that Holets had informed the police chief of his plans to record remarks for the convention, would not speak in uniform and would be “representing himself and his family’s story of adoption.”

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Trump Adds Reality Show Flourishes To RNC

In February, President Trump applied production sensibilities that he learned in his years as a reality television star to one of the most staid American political traditions: the State of the Union address.

On Tuesday, he inserted some similar emotional flourishes to the pageantry of the Republican National Convention, tearing up more norms in the process.

Trump used the broadcast to reveal that he had given a full pardon to Jon Ponder, an African American man who started a rehabilitation program for prisoners after he was released from prison. And Trump held a naturalization ceremony for five new citizens, all people of color.

Both events were prerecorded at the White House and played during the convention. The happy moments, interspersed between traditional speeches, aimed to show Trump looking presidential — unconventional twists likely to incense critics over his refusal to draw a hard line between conducting official White House business and running for a second term in office.

The reality show moments were also used as overt reminders of Trump’s work on criminal justice reform, his backing for law enforcement and his calls for a merit-based immigration system.

The segments called to mind Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address, when he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, reunited a soldier with his family and gave a scholarship to a student.

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Republicans Make Explicit Focus On Race At Convention

During the Republican National Convention’s first night, a bevy of speakers, including some prominent nonwhite Republicans, mounted a defense of President Trump’s record and painted a rosier picture of his record on race relations.

Speakers last night reflected the party’s limited racial diversity and included South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican serving in the Senate, and Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who is Indian American.

“In much of the Democratic Party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist,” Haley said. “That is a lie. America is not a racist country. The American people know we can do better. And of course we value and respect every Black life,” she said, referencing the Black Lives Matter movement. Trump has called the phrase “a symbol of hate.”

Scott painted an optimistic vision of America, saying that his own family arc from “cotton to Congress in one lifetime” is possible here.

But even as speakers like Scott and Haley offered personal stories that sought to soften Trump’s image on race, the convention has also already featured a number of speakers who have mounted rhetorical attacks on protesters who are fighting racial injustice, saying that they are violent extremists, and have said that if Joe Biden were elected president, it would lead to civil disorder.

Those speakers included Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who waved their weapons at Black protesters in their neighborhood and are now facing felony charges.

“Your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America,” Patricia McCloskey said in remarks from her St. Louis home, seated alongside her husband. She warned that Biden wanted to “abolish the suburbs,” echoing appeals that Trump has himself been making to white suburban voters.

The message that the McCloskeys and other speakers focused on Monday — that families in this country aren’t safe with Democrats in control — has been a defining feature of Trump’s reelection campaign and brings back a tactic the president used during his 2016 campaign, when he played up white racial resentment and targeted white voters who felt the country’s traditional identity was under attack.

And voters have newly criticized Trump’s record on race relations. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll in early June found that most Americans believe Trump made race relations worse after George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.

But while the McCloskeys spoke in one section of last night’s program, a number of Black speakers drew from their personal experiences with Trump as a rebuttal to claims that Trump has stoked racial fears and divisions.

Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Black Democrat, said that “all hell broke loose” when he endorsed Trump and that “the Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave their mental plantation.”

Herschel Walker, a retired football star who said he is a longtime friend of Trump’s, said he was personally offended by characterizations of Trump as a racist. “I take it as a personal insult that people would think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist,” said Walker, who is Black. “People who think that don’t know what they are talking about.”

The Republican convention is highlighting a few other speakers of color in tonight’s program, including Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who’s Black.

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Joins Midwestern Endorsements

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds joined other Midwesterners tonight who praised President Trump for what they called the help they’d received from his trade policies.

“Because of President Trump and his leadership, our country is able to bounce back from setbacks and see opportunity grow and thrive,” Reynolds said. “This is an administration of action and outcomes.”

She also described support, via Trump, more specific to the Hawkeye State. Reynolds’ state has been through a series of challenges this year, most recently when derecho storms devastated several regions of the state in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump visited the state this month following the storms.

“I just want to extend my gratitude for the incredible turnaround time,” Reynolds told Trump during the Aug. 18 visit. “In less than 24 hours, you were able to approve the major disaster declaration, and that provides a lot of insurance to our communities that have been impacted by the derecho.”

Reynolds was elected to office as Iowa’s first female governor in 2018. A year earlier, she succeeded the state’s governor at the time, Terry Branstad, who joined the Trump administration as an ambassador to China.

She’s also changing the makeup of voters in a purple state that Trump won in 2016. This month, Reynolds said she would reinstate voting rights to Iowans with previous felony convictions, which could impact more than 50,000 state residents.

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Tiffany Trump Paints Bleak Picture Of U.S. Discourse

Tiffany Trump, President Trump’s youngest daughter and only child with ex-wife Marla Maples, struck a conspiracy-heavy tone on Tuesday in her address to listeners of the Republican National Convention.

Speaking at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., Tiffany Trump painted a portrait of a malevolent, big business-run society where voters’ viewpoints have been crushed or distorted by the media and corporate interests.

“People must recognize that our thoughts, opinions and even the choice of who we vote for are being manipulated and invisibly coerced by the media and tech giants,” she said. “If you tune in to the media, you get one biased opinion or another. And if what you share does not fit into the narrative they seek to promote, then it is either ignored or deemed a ‘lie,’ regardless of the truth. This manipulation of what information we receive impedes our freedoms.”

Trump’s condemnation of the tech giants followed her father’s public row with microvlogging platform TikTok, which has become one of the most popular social media apps for teens and young adults. President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have also recently had posts on Twitter restricted because they contained misinformation.

Tiffany Trump appeared to frame these actions as the result of intentions to control public opinion.

“Why are so many in the media, in technology, even in our own government, so invested in promoting a biased and fabricated view?” she said in her Tuesday address. “Ask yourselves why are we prevented from seeing certain information? Why is one viewpoint promoted while others are hidden? The answer is control — and because division and controversy breeds profit.”

Tiffany Trump, perhaps the lowest-profile member of the Trump family other than the president’s youngest child, Barron, has made relatively few political appearances compared with her older siblings. She graduated this May with a law degree from Georgetown University.

Tiffany Trump addressed the RNC once before, in 2016, when her father sought his first term in office. In the years since, she has kept mostly out of the political fray while her older siblings have stayed closer to President Trump’s business and political affairs.

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Kudlow Looks On Sunny Side Of Coronavirus Economic Crisis

Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s top economic adviser, is known for his sunny economic outlooks. He stayed true to form in an appearance at the Republican National Convention, where he put the coronavirus in the past tense and declared the economy rescued.

“It was awful. Health and economic impacts were tragic. Hardship and heartbreak were everywhere,” Kudlow said.

Kudlow has long predicted a V-shaped recovery from what became the deepest recession since the Great Depression — a best-case scenario that Trump has taken to calling a "Super V."

But the speed of recovery depends on the ability to contain the continuing pandemic. Tens of thousands of confirmed coronavirus cases are announced daily, and the economic recovery appears to have stalled.

U.S. employers created more than 9 million jobs in May, June and July — but 22 million jobs were lost in March and April, after the virus took hold. The unemployment rate is still higher than it has been at any point since the 2007-2009 financial crisis. With consumers still staying at home, major sectors like travel and retail continue to flounder.

One bright spot: the housing sector. Rock-bottom interest rates have spurred construction and home sales.

Kudlow tonight declared Trump’s tax and regulatory cuts “a roaring success,” claiming Trump “rebuilt” the “stagnant” economy he inherited.

In fact, the economy had been growing before Trump’s inauguration. And while it is true that the economy added 6.8 million jobs during the first 37 months that Trump was in office, before the pandemic struck, the impressive gains were not unprecedented: In the 37 months before Trump took office, the U.S. economy added 8.2 million jobs.

"Donald Trump inherited a booming economy, but just like everything he has ever inherited, he wasted it,” Lily Adams, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement prior to Kudlow’s remarks.

With reporting from NPR Chief Economics Correspondent Scott Horsley

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Nick Sandmann Says Media Was A ‘Willing Participant’ In Having Him ‘Canceled’

Nick Sandmann denounced the “mainstream media,” arguing he was “canceled” because of irresponsible news coverage.

In January 2019, a video went viral of Sandmann closely standing in front of Native American activist Nathan Phillips near the Lincoln Memorial. Sandmann was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in the video.

“I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being canceled. As in annulled. As in revoked. As in made void,” Sandmann said, speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. “Canceled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left. Many are being fired, humiliated or even threatened, and often the media is a willing participant,” he added.

At the time of the incident, Sandmann was in Washington, D.C., for a school trip and was a junior at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. Many of his classmates were also featured in the video, gathering behind Sandmann and Phillips.

“My life changed forever in that one moment,” Sandmann said. “The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode. They did so without researching the full video of the incident, without ever investigating Mr. Phillips’ motives or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do you know why? Because the truth was not important,” he added.

Shortly after the event, additional details emerged concerning factors not captured in the video — notably that a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites had engaged in a fiery back-and-forth with the students.

Sandmann went on to take legal action against multiple media organizations for their reporting on the initial events. CNN settled a lawsuit with Sandmann in January, and The Washington Post did as well in July.

In an interview with NPR after the incident, Phillips said that he did not want Sandmann to be “punished” for his perceived behavior but added, “This young man has to come to some kind of understanding of where he was at and what he — what he did.”

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Controversial Anti-Abortion-Rights Activist Abby Johnson Defends Trump’s Record

Anti-abortion-rights activist Abby Johnson gave a detailed defense of President Trump’s record on abortion, calling the election a choice between “two radical, anti-life activists and the most pro-life president we’ve ever had.”

Johnson, the former director of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic, gave a graphic description of what she says she witnessed in 2009 when she sat in on an ultrasound-guided abortion. She also says she was told to meet an abortion quota in her job.

However, Johnson’s account of her time at Planned Parenthood has been questioned by investigative journalists. Johnson has defended her account.

Texas Monthly reported that there is no record of that type of abortion being performed at the clinic where she worked on the day she claims to have witnessed it. It also reports discrepancies in the details of the type of work she did at Planned Parenthood. There is a long history of dispute between Planned Parenthood and Johnson over her telling of the story. Johnson also says those events pushed her to become an anti-abortion-rights activist in 2009.

Johnson also called Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger a racist, a longtime criticism that, as NPR fact-checked in 2015, is complicated.

Her controversial statements on social media have also drawn the attention of critics. In May, she tweeted her support for household voting, the system in place before women gained the right to vote 100 years ago this month.

The news outlet The 19th originally reported her comments. Under the system, which Johnson said she would support, married men would vote on behalf of the family unit.

Vice News also reported on a June video in which Johnson said police officers would be “smart” to profile her adopted biracial son.

Johnson told NPR in 2018 that some abortion-rights opponents would not initially accept her and called her “disgusting” because of her earlier work at Planned Parenthood

“They were like, ‘You either need to go to jail or hell’ — those were the options,” she told NPR’s Sarah McCammon.

Johnson said she was eventually embraced by the movement. Johnson’s popularity has grown in anti-abortion-rights circles, and her memoir, Unplanned, was adapted into a film last year. She also founded an organization, And Then There Were None, to provide financial support for people who choose to leave jobs with abortion providers.

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Biden Has Seen Higher-Profile Endorsers From The Opposing Party

Joe Biden had a Republican former governor of Ohio and a Republican former secretary of state speak at his convention.

President Trump has a Democratic state representative from Georgia and the Democratic mayor of Eveleth, Minn. — population 3,718.

Mayor Bob Vlaisavljevich spoke to the Republican National Convention tonight from Eveleth, praising Trump for rolling back environmental regulations and engaging in a tariff war with China over steel and other goods.

Vlaisavljevich blamed globalization for decimating jobs across Minnesota’s Iron Range. He said between prioritizing free trade and embracing environmental policies, national Democrats had become “adversaries” to Minnesota miners. He said he was ready to give up on Washington as a whole, but then, Trump ran for president.

“He talked like one of us. He knew what we were up against. And he promised to stand up to China and the rest of the world on behalf of the American worker,” Vlaisavljevich said. “Four years later, I am happy to say that after decades of despair, the Iron Range is roaring back to life, and we have one man to thank: President Donald Trump.”

Trump lost Minnesota by a slim margin in 2016 and won neighboring Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes. Despite playing defense across the electoral map in 2020, Trump thinks he can steal Minnesota from the Democratic column.

It’s the second night in a row that the convention featured a Democratic official who has crossed party lines to endorse Trump. On Monday, Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones spoke about how, in his view, Trump has helped Black Americans.

But the wattage of officials and former officials crossing parties to offer endorsements is much higher on the Biden side.

Last week, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, both longtime Trump critics, were given high-profile speaking slots at the Democratic National Convention. On the eve of this week’s GOP convention, the Biden campaign highlighted endorsements from more than two dozen Republican former members of Congress, including former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.

The endorsement disparity mirrors the broader polls, which show that independent voters prefer Biden over Trump by wide margins — including a 16-point advantage in the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

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Rand Paul Contrasts Trump And Biden On War

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of President Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination in 2016, held up the Trump administration’s foreign policy as a key dividing line between Republicans and the Democratic presidential nominee.

“Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War, which President Trump has long called the worst geopolitical mistake of our generation,” Paul said.

“I fear Biden will choose war again. He supported war in Serbia, Syria and Libya. Joe Biden will continue to spill our blood and treasure. President Trump will bring our heroes home.”

Biden, like other congressional Democrats who backed the war at the time, later said he considered his support a mistake and said he backed it as a way to avoid a broader conflict, hoping the vote could help spur a diplomatic effort.

Paul was one of the few GOP candidates in 2016 who agreed with Trump’s push to withdraw troops from the Mideast. The party’s platform has traditionally touted a muscular foreign policy, and it’s one area where Republicans in Congress have parted ways with him or pushed for more coordination on new military action.

The Republican senator didn’t mention more recent splits with the administration. When it took action against Iran, Paul co-sponsored a resolution that would require the president to consult with Congress before ordering any offensive strikes. The move came after the administration approved a drone strike this January that killed Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general.

Paul also mentioned that he worked with the president on a “true tax cut”; he didn’t explain the details of how he defined that. The 2017 tax-cut package that the president enacted is one of his administration’s chief domestic accomplishments. But top officials’ and congressional Republicans’ claims that it would generate enough revenue to pay for itself have failed to materialize.

The Kentucky Republican also isn’t on the same page with the massive federal assistance the administration has touted during the convention. Paul missed the vote on the $2 trillion CARES Act package that has been touted at the Republican National Convention because he was the first senator to test positive for the coronavirus. But he said he opposed the level of new federal spending in that and subsequent packages.

Paul worked closely with the Trump administration and some Senate Democrats on a key issue that Monday night’s keynote speaker, Sen. Tim Scott, highlighted — criminal justice reform. He has also been one of the president’s golf partners.

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RNC Milks Its Pitch To Midwest With Dairy Farmer Testimonial

Republicans kicked off the second day of their national convention by presenting President Trump as the best candidate to return the economy back to prominence after the coronavirus pandemic.

They tapped key groups that support Trump, such as farmers in the Midwest.

Cris Peterson, who with her husband, Gary, farms 1,000 cows in Grantsburg, Wis., was one of the first to speak. She spoke about the challenges farmers have faced over the years and praised Trump because, she said, he has confronted China over its trade practices.

Peterson said Trump came into office during the “great depression for dairy farmers.” And she said a fire almost ran her family out of business. Peterson said she credited Trump’s policies and vision with helping return her business to profitability.

“Our entire economy, and dairy farming, are once again roaring back,” said Peterson.

But Trump does not have universal support from Wisconsin dairy farmers.

The Wisconsin Farmers Union blames Trump’s trade policies as “too little, too late” for dairy farmers who are going under.

“It’s clear that the USMCA and the Phase 1 agreement with China won’t come close to fixing the widespread damage he’s caused to our way of life,” Wisconsin Farmers Union president and dairy farmer Darin Von Ruden told the Wisconsin State Farmer this year. “He broke his promise to us to expand markets and help our balance sheets, putting countless farmers in a perilous situation.”

The Wisconsin Democrats charge that since Trump became president, over 2,000 dairy farms have gone out of business, with a record 818 shutting their barn doors forever in 2019. Wisconsin has also led the nation in farm bankruptcies.

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Trump’s Game-Night Pardon Underscores His Broad Use Of That Power

Few presidents have wielded the clemency powers granted by the Constitution with more apparent relish than President Trump. He has used this ability to help people he considered hard-luck cases whose stories reached him via TV; he has followed through on celebrity requests for pardons on behalf of others; and — to the anger of critics — Trump also has used his clemency powers on service members accused of war crimes and to help his own friend Roger Stone after Stone was convicted and sentenced in a federal trial.

Tonight brought another quintessential example: Trump this evening used his pardon power on a man he’d already invited to be a convention speaker, combining his official capability as president with his showman’s desire to turn up the drama for viewers at home. And last week, as part of a program of official actions designed to draw attention away from the Democrats’ convention, Trump issued a posthumous pardon to suffragist pioneer Susan B. Anthony.

The Susan B. Anthony Museum rejected Trump’s pardon, but the president was undeterred. In the past, he hasn’t ruled out more pardons for members of his camp who have been convicted of crimes or who remain caught up in the legal system.

Listen to a clip of NPR’s special coverage on Trump’s pardons.

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RNC Highlights Midwest Biz Leaders Who Say Trump Trade Policies Helped

John Peterson, owner and chief executive of metal fabricator Schuette Metals, is among those business owners from key states like Wisconsin invited by Republicans to say that President Trump’s controversial trade policies have helped them.

Peterson is likely to thank Trump for defending American manufacturers by imposing tariffs on foreign goods.

Democrats have largely criticized Trump’s unilateral trade positions, saying they have hurt American workers.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York this year found that U.S. companies lost at least $1.7 trillion in the price of their stocks as a result of U.S. tariffs imposed on imports from China.

It’s a key issue in Midwest states like Wisconsin, where Trump has presented himself as protecting American workers and bringing back manufacturing.

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Maine Lobsterman Lauds Trump For Helping His Industry

Eighth-generation Maine lobsterman Jason Joyce praised President Trump for brokering a deal on European tariffs on lobsters and for opening up waters that President Barack Obama had closed off to industry.

“As long as Trump is president, fishing families like mine will have a voice,” Joyce, who lives on Swans Island, about 20 miles southwest of Acadia National Park, said in prepared remarks. “But if [Joe] Biden wins, he’ll be controlled by the environmental extremists who want to circumvent long-standing rules and impose radical changes that hurt our coastal communities.”

Joyce’s speech in support of Trump caps a months-long courtship between the lobster industry and a president who has been eager to boost its prospects.

Trump sat down with Maine fishermen in June, promising several actions to shore up the seafood industry. They included trying to lower European tariffs on American lobsters that put Maine boats at a competitive disadvantage with their Canadian counterparts.

Last week, he delivered. U.S and European Union trade negotiators announced a deal that would end the tariffs and potentially boost Maine’s lobster sales to EU countries by tens of millions of dollars. And the Trump administration last week delayed potentially onerous pollution rules for diesel engines used by big lobster trawlers.

Lobsterman John Drouin says during four decades hauling traps off Downeast Maine, he has never seen so much direct attention from a president.

“The fishermen up here in New England and hopefully particularly in Maine do need this attention,” Drouin said. “We don’t ask for it daily.”

Under Maine’s unique presidential voting system, three of its four electoral votes went to Hillary Clinton in 2016. But Trump won by 10 percentage points in the more rural 2nd Congressional District, earning him one electoral vote.

University of Maine political scientist Mark Brewer says Trump is angling for a repeat. He says the president’s actions might indeed sway some undecided lobstermen in the district, but they also send a message to Trump’s national base — explaining why Joyce was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention.

“The kind of independent, hardworking, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps American who’s been forgotten, according to Trump, by Democrats and these coastal elites,” Brewer said. “And [that] he’s got their back and he hopes they have his.”

— Fred Bever, Maine Public Radio
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Navajo Nation’s Myron Lizer On Trump’s Relationship With Tribal Community

Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer spoke about President Trump’s efforts to work with the tribal community during a recorded address on Night 2 of the Republican National Convention.

“Our people have never been invited into the American Dream,” he said. “We, for years, fought congressional battles with past congressmen and senators that were part of a broken system that ignored us. That is, until President Trump took office.”

Lizer added: “Whenever we meet with President Trump, he has always made it a priority to repair the relationship with our federal family.” The remarks from the Navajo Nation’s No. 2 came a week after Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez spoke in a keynote address in support of Joe Biden during the Democratic National Convention.

“Let’s get real. There’s a lot riding on this election,” Nez said, adding that he appreciates Biden’s plan to invest in energy and infrastructure.

During a virtual town hall streamed on Facebook this morning, Lizer acknowledged the political difference between himself and Nez.

“There’s no secret we are a split ticket,” he said. “We are working both sides, and we are well represented in Washington.”

Lizer has met with Trump on several occasions and attended a 2019 event at the White House where Trump signed an executive order to establish a task force to address missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.

“As the host people of the land, we feel that our prayers are being answered,” Lizer said at the time.

Lizer was criticized by some constituents in June after attending a Students for Trump event in Phoenix on the Navajo Nation’s dime. But he told the Navajo Times that he used the opportunity to connect with congressional leaders to advance tribal interests.

“People may not like it, but this is how politics works,” Lizer told the Navajo Times. “The more we’re out there being seen, the less likely people are to forget about us.”

In his address tonight, Lizer also voiced his support for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

“President Trump also strengthened the Supreme Court by nominating strong conservative judges like Neil Gorsuch, who supports Native American rights,” Lizer said.

In July, the Supreme Court ruled that about half of the land in Oklahoma falls within a Native American reservation. Gorsuch joined the court’s more liberal members in the decision and penned the majority opinion. He had previously served as a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which frequently saw cases involving Native American lands.

The Navajo Nation has been hit hard with the coronavirus pandemic, with over 9,000 confirmed cases and nearly 500 deaths, according to the Navajo Department of Health.

The federal government agreed to provide $8 billion in coronavirus aid to tribal communities, $600 million of which went to the Navajo Nation.

In a May interview with Morning Edition, Nez said the money went to personal protective equipment, distribution of essential materials and hazard pay, but he bemoaned the timing of the release of funds to the Navajo Nation.

“We had to take the federal government to court so that they can release those dollars,” he said. “The CARES Act was approved and signed into law over seven weeks ago. While the rest of the country, municipalities, townships, counties and states have been utilizing those dollars, tribal governments — 574 tribes — just last week received their money.”

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RNC Aims Early Pitch At Latino Evangelicals

Norma Urrabazo, pastor of the International Church of Las Vegas, began Night 2 of the Republican National Convention by delivering the opening prayer.

The Mexican American pastor is among a group of Latino evangelical pastors who have supported President Trump — including his push to build a border wall. Her high-profile role at the convention reflects the Trump campaign’s continued focus on diversity of speakers.

Evangelicals are a key voting bloc for Trump, and he has tapped into the community to help broaden his support among Latino members.

Latino evangelical voters have not necessarily had an easy time. Many have firsthand knowledge of the struggles of immigrants. They bristle at the Trump administration’s tough immigration policies and push to clamp down on refugees. But they also have strong feelings about abortion and the role of faith in education, which are priorities for the larger evangelical community.

Trump has never had great support among Latinos, and polls show his handling of the coronavirus pandemic has further hurt his standing with them.

Seventy percent of Latino voters disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, and 66% said they would support Joe Biden in the election, according to a recent Latino Decisions poll released before the conventions.

The campaign is still making its appeal, and Republicans have made a clear effort to showcase more diverse members of their party during the convention.

On the first night, featured speakers included Sen. Tim Scott and former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. Tonight’s list of scheduled speakers includes a Latina lieutenant governor and a Black attorney general, Daniel Cameron of Kentucky.

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RNC Speaker Mary Ann Mendoza Removed From Lineup

Mary Ann Mendoza, the mother of an Arizona police officer who was killed by an intoxicated driver in 2014, was abruptly removed from the speaker lineup late Tuesday. Mendoza had made a controversial post on Twitter hours before the decision.

“We have removed the scheduled video from the convention lineup, and it will no longer run this week,” said Trump campaign communications manager Tim Murtaugh.

Earlier Tuesday, Mendoza asked her followers on Twitter to read a theory supported by QAnon, which the FBI has identified as a domestic terrorism group. Shortly before her remarks were set to air at the convention, she apologized for the tweet, saying she hadn’t read the retweeted thread in its entirety and it didn’t reflect her personal stance.

President Trump and Republicans have tried to strike a fine balance with QAnon, which the president praised after he said he believed it supported him, but which aides and other Republicans also have tried to repudiate because of its baseless conspiracy theorizing.

Mendoza rose to prominence in the wake of her 32-year-old son’s death in 2014. Sgt. Brandon Mendoza was driving home from a work shift when he was struck by a wrong-way driver identified as Raul Silva-Corona, a gardener who was also killed in the crash. Silva-Corona had a previous criminal record and had remained in the United States as an unauthorized immigrant.

Soon after, Mendoza reached out to President Barack Obama to raise concerns about illegal immigration and subsequently President Trump. She has been supportive of Trump’s wall efforts along the U.S. southern border as well as his immigration policies.

In 2018, Mendoza told WBUR that while she remains concerned about intoxicated drivers of all backgrounds, she’s especially focused on those with immigration concerns.

“I’ve got my own fight in my belly of what I’m fighting about and the very reason why my son was killed — and that’s where I’m directing my energy. And obviously I’m against drunk driving no matter what,” Mendoza said.

Listen to a clip of NPR’s special coverage on the last-minute change to the lineup.

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Ex-Bank Robber Receives Pardon Right Before His Convention Speech

President Trump announced today that he is granting a full pardon to Jon Ponder, founder of the Las Vegas-based Hope for Prisoners, hours before Ponder’s appearance at the Republican National Convention.

Ponder founded the rehabilitation program after he was released from a five-year prison sentence for bank robbery. He first met Trump at the White House at the 2018 National Day of Prayer celebration. Trump also attended a graduation ceremony at Hope for Prisoners in February of this year.

“Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” Trump said in a video. “Jon, we honor your devotion to showing returning citizens that they are not forgotten.”

Said Ponder: “My hope for America is that formerly incarcerated people will be afforded the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that we live in a nation of second chances. My hope for America is that law enforcement and people in communities across our country can come together and realize that, as Americans, we have more in common than we have differences.”

Ponder and his wife choked up when Trump announced the pardon.

Ponder left prison committed to helping other people change their lives and avoid returning to incarceration. His organization provides job training, substance abuse treatment, education and long-term mentoring that begins during incarceration and lasts for up to 18 months after release.

Ponder was joined in the video by Richard Beasley, the FBI agent who arrested him. The two became friends after Ponder was released. Beasley recounted arresting an angry Ponder 15 years ago. Ponder later sent Beasley a necktie and a thank-you note for treating him “like a gentleman.” The two became friends after Ponder was released and began to work on Hope for Prisoners.

Beasley thanked Trump for supporting Hope for Prisoners and for supporting law enforcement.

“In certain parts of our country right now, law enforcement doesn’t feel like they have support from their local leaders,” Beasley said. “They are being painted with a broad brush, unfairly, and with calls for defunding.”

Some activists have called for portions of police departments’ budgets to be directed elsewhere — to, for example, a city’s programs for homelessness or mental health counseling — but some opponents have seized on the motto “defund the police” and characterized it as an appeal to abolish police departments altogether.

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Fact check

Republicans Blast Democrats As Socialists. Here’s What Socialism Is

“Socialism” has already come up quite a bit during the Republican National Convention this week and is expected to remain a pillar of Republican criticism of the Democratic Party.

The S-word is a charge Republicans have leveled against Democrats for decades, says Thomas Alan Schwartz, a Vanderbilt University history and political science professor.

“Democrats have tended, through regulation and other ways, to be more empowering of the federal government and in regulating the economy than the Republicans,” Schwartz says, "and this has been called socialism.”

Schwartz says the term “socialism” actually refers to a political system in which the state is in charge of the economy and provides social welfare services such as health care and where “all sorts of other things are in state control, including the large sections of the private economy.”

Read a fact check of the term and its recent usage from NPR’s Brian Naylor.

— NPR Staff
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Despite Recession, Economy Remains Trump Selling Point

Almost 30 million people are now collecting unemployment benefits. Yet President Trump still gets relatively high marks for his handling of the economy.

As Republicans focus on “opportunity” at tonight’s convention, the economy remains one of the president’s strongest selling points.

Ordinarily, a double-digit unemployment rate would be crippling for a president seeking reelection, but Trump’s economic approval rating continues to hover near 50%.

“What’s going on is the memory of the economy before the pandemic,” says Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “It was rolling. Unemployment was at historic lows. The economy was in great shape before the pandemic killed it.”

Presidential approval ratings in general don’t swing up and down as much as they used to. Americans have increasingly sorted themselves into highly polarized camps, reluctant to abandon their own standard-bearer or show even grudging approval for the other side.

“It just feels temporary,” says Mark Schneider, a Navy retiree who lives in Chesapeake, Va. “We just kind of paused the economy, as opposed to something mucking the system.”

Trump’s overall approval rating is considerably lower than his economic marks, weighed down in part by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. And until there’s a solution for the coronavirus, Ayres says, it’s going to be difficult for the economy to come roaring back.

Read more about how voters view Trump’s handling of the economy here.

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Melania Trump’s Big Night

In front of a small, in-person audience at the recently revamped White House Rose Garden, Melania Trump will headline the second night of the Republican National Convention.

Trump spoke at the RNC four years ago, but her speech was overshadowed by accusations that parts of her address were lifted from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. A Trump Organization employee who worked on the speech ultimately accepted responsibility.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s chief of staff, told MSNBC today that Melania Trump’s speech will make the case for why her husband should get another four years in office. She will also focus on her “Be Best” campaign and other initiatives she wants to promote around children.

Melania Trump launched the Be Best campaign in 2018 to help address opioid abuse among young people, improve the emotional health of children and combat cyberbullying. Two years later, the program still exists, but it does not have any tangible policy goals.

“It’s very uplifting,” Grisham said of tonight’s speech. “It’s very positive. It reflects on her time as first lady and some of her favorite moments. There’s a couple moments in there that I think will be really key. And then it’s really, really forward looking … not only what she wants to do in the next four years but why she thinks the president is best for our country.”

The campaign has come under fire from government watchdogs who say holding a campaign event on federal property like the Rose Garden could violate federal ethics laws. The Hatch Act prohibits government employees from participating in political activity in government buildings or while on duty. However, it’s up to employers to enforce violations by their employees, and the Trump White House would be unlikely to do that.

“White House counsel has been very, very strict with us,” Grisham said. “They’ve sent out many, many one-pagers and emails explaining what can and can’t be done. Everybody needs to do things on their own time. You cannot use government equipment. All those things. So it’s being very, very strictly adhered to.”

President Trump will accept the Republican nomination from the White House lawn later this week.

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A History Of The White House Rose Garden

The White House Rose Garden has seen a lot of history.

President John F. Kennedy hosted the Project Mercury astronauts there. In 1971, it was the venue for the wedding of President Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia (seen in the photo above). The Rose Garden has hosted state dinners and major policy announcements. It’s where Vice President Joe Biden announced he would not run for president in 2016 and where President Trump has held several press briefings.

And tonight, the Rose Garden will serve as backdrop to first lady Melania Trump’s prime-time speech to the Republican National Convention.

The first lady recently oversaw a multiweek “renewal” of the garden (seen below) — most visibly featuring the addition of a new limestone walkway designed to make the space more accessible for people with disabilities.

“Gardens are symbols of growth and hope,” the first lady said at the official reopening of the garden last week. “We celebrate this garden in the hope that future generations will not only enjoy — but also draw inspiration and strength from — this space where so much of our history has been shared.”

The renovation drew criticism — both for the removal of several crab apple trees and for the Trump administration prioritizing a garden rehab in the middle of a deadly pandemic and dire economic recession. The crab apple trees will be replanted elsewhere on the White House grounds.

Government watchdogs have also warned that holding convention speeches from the Rose Garden and the South Lawn, where President Trump is set to speak this week, could violate government ethics laws or, at the very least, constitute inappropriate use of the White House as a backdrop for a campaign function.

The Rose Garden dates back to 1913, when first lady Ellen Wilson, the wife of President Woodrow Wilson, planned a rose garden outside the Oval Office. There had been other gardens on the site dating back to Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. But the Rose Garden came into its current form under the Kennedy administration, when Kennedy asked horticulturist Rachel Mellon to design a rose garden like the ones the Kennedys had seen in Europe.

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Despite Trump’s Success, Little Mention Of Judges At Convention

In not quite four years in office, President Trump has appointed 203 judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench — and that’s not including his two Supreme Court justices.

“I think the transformation of the federal judiciary is President Trump’s biggest accomplishment,” said Mike Davis, former nominations counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee who now runs the Article III Project, which advocates for judicial nominees. “President Trump has absolutely delivered on his promise.”

So it’s a bit of a mystery why judges haven’t yet figured more into the Republican National Convention. On Monday evening, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, took to Twitter to implore the campaign to make the judiciary a bigger part of the message.

The president did make reference to judges in brief remarks in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday, pointing out that whoever wins the election could have as many as four or five vacancies to fill on the Supreme Court in the next four years. Trump said he would release a list of his potential Supreme Court picks in the next couple of weeks.

“This is so — whether you’re talking about life, whether you’re talking about Second Amendment, whether you’re talking about military,” the president said. “This is so important. We have to do this. We have to win this election.”

But it’s the lower courts that may count for most Americans. The vast majority of cases never make it all the way up to the highest court in the nation. Already, Trump has managed to tip the balance from judges appointed by Democrats to judges appointed by Republicans at three federal appeals courts. And Davis said, with four more years in office, this president also could manage to flip the 9th Circuit, which has been a frequent Trump target for its rulings on immigration, gun rights and other social issues.

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Pompeo, In A Break With Tradition, To Address Convention

Using Jerusalem as a backdrop, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is breaking longtime norms — and his very own guidance — by addressing this year’s Republican National Convention while he’s on a taxpayer-funded diplomatic mission.

The State Department is trying to distance itself from the controversy, insisting in an emailed statement that Pompeo is speaking in his “personal capacity.”

“Staff are not involved in preparing the remarks or in the arrangements for Secretary Pompeo’s appearance,” the statement says. “The State Department will not bear any costs in conjunction with this appearance.”

That would be illegal under the Hatch Act, noted University of Virginia professor Philip Zelikow, who was counselor to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Republican. Zelikow argued that it is a “ridiculous claim” that Pompeo is acting as a private citizen. “Who do you think is paying for him to be in Jerusalem? What is he doing in Jerusalem? He’s there as the secretary of state.”

Secretaries of state are supposed to represent all Americans, especially when they are abroad, talking to world leaders. For at least the past century, they have avoided playing an openly partisan role.

Zelikow recalled that when President George H.W. Bush wanted his secretary of state, James Baker, to help him campaign, Baker resigned to go back to the White House.

“Baker was a very political person, but he knew that he could not play that role and also be the secretary of state,” Zelikow said, adding that some might feel this is old-fashioned.

“That’s not my view,” he said. “I think people will miss these norms when they’re gone, and I think they should not approve of their secretary of state behaving in such a nakedly partisan way.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are fuming. In a statement, Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for Joe Biden’s campaign, called Pompeo’s action “absolutely disgraceful.”

Congressman Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the speech violates decades-old rules in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual and Pompeo’s own legal guidance for the department, which says, “Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”

The State Department would not comment on that or give any details about the videotaped address from Jerusalem.

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How Trump Changed His Tune On States’ Coronavirus Responses

On the first day of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., more than five months after the coronavirus began spreading around the U.S., President Trump characterized the White House’s response as “the exact right thing.”

But following a blueprint he has used for months, he also shifted responsibility for the pandemic response onto the states. He blamed many governors for having been “ill-prepared” for the pandemic, while praising others for doing a “fine job.”

In May, Trump applauded Republican governors in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona for reopening quickly and having low case numbers. At the same time, he criticized states that remained closed, sparring with Democratic governors in New York and California and pressuring leaders of swing states such as Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania to lift restrictions.

But as summer continued, many of the same states that the president commended saw spikes in coronavirus cases. States he had criticized saw cases decline. So he was forced to change course.

For a look at what Trump has said about the pandemic response in seven key battleground states and how his language has changed as cases have risen and fallen, click here.

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4 Takeaways From Last Night

The first night of the Republican National Convention was a little scattershot. It seemed to be partially aimed at counterprogramming last week’s Democratic National Convention, partially intended to fire up the base and partially directed at winning back some 2016 Trump voters who are having second thoughts.

4 key takeaways:

  1. Republicans tried to appeal to their base and retain soft Trump voters.

The convention’s first night projected a heavy fear factor. At times, it presented an almost apocalyptic message of what would happen if Democrats took control of the country — an attempt to excite the base but also to try to shake up those voters who pulled the lever for Trump four years ago but might now be wavering.

  1. Speakers focused on trying to fix President Trump’s vulnerabilities.

Most of the early program dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and tried to sell the idea that Trump has done a lot to fight it and has saved lives — despite the president having dismissed the gravity of the virus early on and his resistance to wearing a mask.

  1. Republicans so wanted to run against socialism, but instead they got Joe Biden.

You get the sense that Republicans began scripting this convention during the Democratic primary, when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was the front-runner, and never changed the playbook.

  1. Sen. Tim Scott stood out — and may have given wavering Republicans a reason to vote for Trump.

Scott’s address (in the photo above) was policy driven, and it was hopeful and maybe did more to vault him to the presidential conversations about 2024 or 2028 than make a case for why Trump should be reelected.

Read more analysis about the takeaways here.

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Tuesday’s Speakers

The second night of the Republican National Convention will be built around the theme “land of opportunity.” First lady Melania Trump has the marquee speaking slot at the end of the night, when she will address the country live from the White House Rose Garden.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver a taped address from Jerusalem, where he is on official State Department business. Government watchdogs say that Pompeo’s speech is a departure from norms and that the nation’s top diplomat traditionally avoids participating in partisan politics.

The other two big political names on the lineup are Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. The Trump family will once again feature prominently: Two of the president’s children will speak tonight, Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump. Donald Trump Jr. spoke on Monday night.

Tuesday’s lineup also includes:

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron

Nicholas Sandmann: the Covington Catholic High School student who was accused of harassing a Native American protester on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Sandmann and his friends were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, and a video of the incident went viral. A longer video of the incident later cast doubt on the original chain of events, and Sandmann sued CNN and The Washington Post for their coverage.

Pam Bondi: A former Florida attorney general and early supporter of Donald Trump, she encouraged “lock her up” chants about Hillary Clinton during her 2016 RNC speech.

Abby Johnson: an anti-abortion-rights activist who previously worked at Planned Parenthood

Jason Joyce: an eighth-generation Maine lobsterman

Myron Lizer: vice president of the Navajo Nation

Mary Ann Mendoza: the mother of an Arizona police officer who was killed by an immigrant who came to the U.S. illegally

John Peterson: the owner of a Wisconsin metal fabricator

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