Republican National Convention 2020: Day 2

By Rebekah Metzler, Jessica Estepa, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 12:49 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020
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11:27 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Melania Trump sends heartfelt message to moms amid pandemic

First lady Melania Trump arrives to speak on the second day of the Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden of the White House on Tuesday in Washington.
First lady Melania Trump arrives to speak on the second day of the Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden of the White House on Tuesday in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

First lady Melania Trump took a moment in her Republican National Convention speech to speak directly to parents about social media and "the downside of technology."

In 2018, Trump unveiled her formal platform: "Be Best," a three-pillar initiative aimed at issues facing children: well-being, social media and opioid abuse.

In what she described as "a special message for the mothers of this country," Trump went on to talk about the challenges children face when navigating social media.

"This modern world is moving so fast. And our children face challenges that seem to change every few months. Just like me, I know many of you watch how mean and manipulating social media can be and I'm sure like me, many are looking for answers about how to talk to your children about the downside of technology and their relationships with their peers," she said.

Trump continued: "Like every parent in this country, I feel there are so many lessons to teach our son. And the responsibilities as his mother but there's just not enough hours in the day to do it all. I remind myself that I'm more fortunate than most and still have days that I look for wisdom and strength to the very best I can for him."

"To mothers and parents everywhere, you are warriors," she said.

Trump then vowed that her husband "will not stop fighting for you and your families."

12:49 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Melania Trump speech attendees not all required to get coronavirus tests

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Kate Sullivan

Those who attended first lady Melania Trump's speech in the White House Rose Garden that capped the second night of the Republican National Convention were not required to get tested for coronavirus, a person who attended the speech told CNN.

There were screening questions on the form to RSVP, but no coronavirus tests or temperature checks were done at the White House, the person said. The Trump campaign said earlier in the day that about 70 people would be attending the speech, which was the first one with an in-person audience at the Republican convention.

Early Wednesday morning, the first lady's chief of staff Stephanie Grisham told CNN that the audience members "in the rows near the President and vice president" were tested for coronavirus before the speech.

Grisham said most of the guests were not tested, especially those "in the last five or six rows," but she claims anyone who came into close contact with Trump or Pence — including senior aides, staffers and Melana Trump's parents — were tested.

The vast majority of those attending did not wear masks, and the chairs provided for attendees did not appear to be placed six feet apart. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises keeping at least six feet apart from others if possible in order to prevent the spread of the virus, and the agency also advocates for face coverings, especially if it is difficult to keep six feet apart from another person.

In Washington, DC, the government currently prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"We contracted with a coronavirus adviser and all suggested protocols were followed," Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CNN. He did not answer an inquiry about whether everyone who attended the speech was tested.

Melania Trump, whose speech stood in stark contrast to the rest of the messaging of the convention, was one of the few speakers who offered deeply felt condolences to the families of the nearly 180,000 people in the US who have died due to coronavirus. She expressed her gratitude for the many first responders who have been on the front lines dealing with the more than 5.7 million coronavirus cases in the US.

Read more here.

11:04 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Melania Trump offers comfort to families suffering during pandemic: "I want you to know you are not alone"

First Lady Melania Trump addresses the Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden at the White House on August 25, in Washington.
First Lady Melania Trump addresses the Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden at the White House on August 25, in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

First lady Melania Trump sought to provide some comfort to families suffering during the coronavirus pandemic and vowed that her husband would "will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic."

"I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed drastically. The invisible enemy, Covid-19, swept across our beautiful country. And impacted all of us," she said. "My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering. I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone."

She vowed that the Trump administration would "not stop fighting until there's an effective treatment on or vaccine available to everyone."

The first lady went on to thank frontline workers for the tireless fight against coronavirus.

"I want to extend my gratitude on to you all of the health care professionals, frontline workers and teachers who stepped up in these difficult times," she said. "Despite the risk to yourselves and your own families you put our country first and my husband and I are grateful."

Watch:

11:38 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Kentucky's attorney general to Biden: "You can't tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington on Tuesday.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington on Tuesday. Susan Walsh/AP

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the first African American to serve in that role, attacked Joe Biden in his speech at the RNC tonight, saying the former vice president ought not tell Black Americans how to vote.

Beginning the speech by citing Abraham Lincoln, who was born in Kentucky, Cameron moved on to address a comment Biden made to popular Black radio host Charlamagne tha God back in May, in which he said "If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” (Biden later walked back his remark, saying, “I know that the comments have come off like I was taking the African American vote for granted but nothing could be further [from] the truth.")

"I... think about Joe Biden who says, 'if you aren't voting for me you're not Black,'" Cameron said.

"...Mr. Vice President, look at me," he continued. "I am Black. We are not all the same, I'm 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 then called the Democratic presidential nominee a "backward thinker in a world that is craving forward-looking leadership." 

"There is no wisdom in his record or his plan just a trail of discredited ideas and offensive statements," he added.

10:58 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

The RNC largely ignores coronavirus pandemic

Analysis from CNN's Eric Bradner

Night two of the Republican National Convention largely ignored the coronavirus pandemic, using the White House setting to fabricate a world that does not match the one in which Americans are now living — or the political landscape of the 2020 election, in which the pandemic and President Trump's health and economic actions in response to it are dominant.

Trump issued a pardon and hosted a naturalization ceremony in the White House, with acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. For both events, none of the participants wore masks.

Later, in the Rose Garden, Melania Trump — the last speaker of the night — was the only one to address the pandemic directly and at length. But almost all the guests attending her speech appeared to be maskless.

Masks are largely unnecessary in the White House because of the testing capacity and requirements there. But that kind of rapid testing isn't available in most of the country.

Mentions of the virus that has left more than 177,000 Americans dead were few and far between for most of the night — and when it came up, such as in White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow's speech, it was in the context of promises of an economic rebound.

The speeches and events without masks were in stark contrast to the Democratic National Convention last week, which featured video montages with people in masks, and where Joe Biden at times wore a mask himself. Speakers at the Democratic National Convention hammered Trump's handling of the virus, with one woman saying her 65-year-old father died because he had trusted Trump when the President downplayed it.

10:58 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Fact check: Allegations about Biden and Ukraine

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks during the second day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Tuesday, August 25.
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks during the second day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Tuesday, August 25. Susan Walsh/AP

 

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday attacked Democratic nominee Joe Biden over his son Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma. “That very same company was being investigated by a Ukrainian prosecutor. Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States, threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless that same prosecutor was fired. And then, he was fired,” Bondi claimed.  

Facts First: This is false. The Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was not actively investigating Burisma. In fact, Biden sought the prosecutor’s removal because Shokin was widely seen as ineffective and corrupt. 

In pushing for Shokin’s removal, Biden was carrying out US policy that was supported by Ukrainian activists, US diplomats and European allies – as well as Republican senators like Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who is now investigating Burisma and the Bidens. 

Hunter Biden in October 2019 said he used "poor judgment" in serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company because it has become a political liability for his father. But there is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of either Biden, and no evidence Joe Biden has profited from his son's business dealings abroad. 

Bondi made similar allegations during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, where she served as defense counsel. Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the former vice president and his son acted corruptly in Ukraine. 

CNN’s Daniel Dale has a more detailed fact check on the matter from January here.   

10:56 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Fact check: Claims on government-subsidized abortions

From CNN's Caroline Kelly 

Anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson.
Anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson. Republican National Convention

Anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson asserted that during his first year in office, Trump "overturned an Obama-Biden rule that allowed government subsidy of abortion."  

Facts First: This is misleading. Trump signed legislation in 2017 blocking federal funding for abortion providers, but federal funds have been barred from being used for elective abortions since 1976. 

Johnson appears to be referring to Trump signing a bill in 2017 allowing states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood — reversing an Obama-era regulation that prohibited states from withholding money from facilities that perform abortions.    

But because of the Hyde Amendment, which dates back to 1976, federal funds were and are already barred from being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the woman's life.  

Planned Parenthood provides other health services, which is what the federal money is meant to pay for. The 2017 bill permits states to suspend even that funding, if the organization providing those services also performs abortions. 

 

12:10 a.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Fact check: Pompeo's claims Trump "held China accountable" on Covid-19

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that President Donald Trump “has held China accountable for covering up the China virus” — the administration’s loaded term for coronavirus — and for “allowing it to spread death and economic destruction in America and around the world.” 

Facts First: This is partly false. While some members of the administration, including Pompeo, criticized China over the virus early on, Trump repeatedly praised China and its leader Xi Jinping at the outset for how it handled the outbreak, while also repeatedly downplaying the potential seriousness of the disease in the US. CNN identified 37 times between January and early April where Trump praised China on Twitter and in comments. 

Even as he got tougher on Beijing and Xi, Trump’s initial retaliatory actions took aim not at the Chinese government, but at the World Health Organization. Trump announced in April he was halting funding to the multilateral body, criticizing it for failing to “get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency.” In May, he said that the US was terminating its relationship with WHO, and the administration began the formal process of withdrawing in July.

The Trump administration has taken a number of actions against Beijing in recent months, but those moves were not exclusively tied to coronavirus. Officials like Pompeo had indicated in the past that there could be more retaliatory actions, and CNN reported in April that the administration was formulating a long-term plan to punish China on multiple fronts for the coronavirus pandemic.

As for China’s responsibility, US intelligence has gathered information showing that officials in Wuhan, China, kept senior officials in Beijing in the dark for weeks about the virus that resulted in the Covid-19 pandemic, according to US officials familiar with the intelligence. 

10:50 p.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Fact check: Pompeo’s claims on North Korean diplomacy

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Republican National Committee

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Donald Trump “lowered the temperature and, against all odds, got North Korean leadership to the table.”

“No nuclear tests, no long-range missile tests and Americans held captive in North Korea came home to their families as did the precious remains of scores of heroes who fought in Korea," he said.

Facts First: This lacks context. While Trump did meet twice with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he has little progress to show for those summits. North Korea launched a number of projectiles earlier this year and although there hasn’t been a known nuclear test inside North Korea since September 2017, a UN report found that Pyongyang is continuing work on its nuclear program. 

Trump’s second summit with Kim in February 2019 ended without a joint agreement after Kim insisted sanctions be lifted. Working level talks have broken down, and in November 2019 the North Korean Foreign Ministry said it was not "interested" in further meetings with the US.

Americans did come back to their families. One of those Americans – Otto Warmbier – came back with significant brain injuries and died shortly after.

North Korea turned over 55 boxes of remains presumed to be of US service members killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War in July 2018. The effort to retrieve the remains, which has long been touted by Trump as evidence of the success of his first Singapore summit with Kim, was suspended in May 2019.