The Republican National Convention continued on Tuesday, with appearances by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as the party tried to push the theme of America as a “land of opportunity.”
First lady Melania Trump closed out the evening with a speech that was perhaps the most open acknowledgment of the human toll taken by the coronavirus pandemic during this convention so far. She offered sympathy for those grieving lost loved ones from COVID-19. She also recognized that there is more work to do to address racial unrest and division in the nation.
Her speech came in the same hour that the convention played the video of Mr. Trump hosting a naturalization ceremony at the White House for new U.S. citizens, despite the fact that his administration has taken a series of actions to severely limit legal immigration to the U.S.
The naturalization ceremony appeared to be in violation of the Hatch Act, a law that prevents doing official duties as part of a political event. In another violation of the same law, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared in the convention program via video from Jerusalem. Just last month, Pompeo warned State Department employees in a cable that they should not engage in “any partisan political activity” tied to a campaign, political party or political group and should refrain from partaking in “partisan political activity” while abroad.
Speakers made several misleading claims on a range of issues: Depicting the state of the economy at the end of the Obama-Biden terms as “stagnation, recession” though it was deep into one of the longest economic expansions on record; and implying that Joe Biden had a prosecutor in Ukraine fired to block the investigation into a company that was paying his son Hunter, though the firing was widely supported by other Western governments and no evidence has emerged to suggest any wrongdoing. Mr. Trump’s son Eric Trump also made misleading statements about Biden supporting “defunding the police.”
Mr. Trump’s daughter, Tiffany Trump, also addressed the convention, defending her father against the media.
Highlights from night 2 of the RNC are below:
Just before the evening programming began, President Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, a convicted bank robber who founded a re-entry program for prisoners being released. Earlier this year, Ponder was granted clemency by the Nevada state pardons board for previous battery convictions, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The video of the president’s pardon played during the early portion of Tuesday night’s convention.
Trump campaign removes video from convention lineup over anti-Semitic QAnon tweet
A video featuring Mary Ann Mendoza, described as an “angel mom” because her son was killed by a drunk driver who was in the country illegally, was pulled at the last minute after she retweeted a long tweet thread featuring an anti-Semitic QAnon conspiracy theory. “We have removed the scheduled video from the convention lineup and it will no longer run this week,” a senior campaign official told CBS News’ Nicole Sganga. Mendoza later apologized and deleted the thread, saying she had not read every post in the thread.
Senator Rand Paul
Paul began his speech by praising Mr. Trump for supporting his medical mission trips to Guatemala and Haiti, where the senator from Kentucky, an ophthalmologist, was performing charity eye surgeries.
“Nothing is more amazing than removing the bandages from a person’s eyes, and watching them as they see their loved ones again. Donald Trump helped me make that happen,” Paul recalled during his remarks.
Paul also praised Mr. Trump for his foreign policy and economic agendas while criticizing Joe Biden as someone who “will continue to spill our blood and treasure.”
Paul, who went head-to-head with Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential election, said he is “proud of the job Donald Trump has done as president.”
“I don’t always agree with him,” the senator said. “But our occasional policy differences are far outweighed by our significant agreements.”
Nicholas Sandmann, who became the subject of a viral video of a confrontation with Native American activist Nathan Phillips last year, focused his remarks on the mainstream media and said Americans must “join with a president who will challenge the media to return to objective journalism.” Sandmann sued several news organizations over coverage of the incident. He has settled some of those suits, and one against CBS News is still pending.
In reflecting upon the incident that took place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Sandmann, appearing in front of the Lincoln Memorial once again, said “the full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode” as footage of the confrontation spread.
Sandmann said that over the last year, he has had Mr. Trump’s support and urged voters to “unite around a president who calls the media out and refuses to allow them to create a narrative instead of reporting the facts.”
“I believe we must all embrace our First Amendment rights and not hide in fear of the media, or from the tech companies or the outrage mob either,” he said. “This is worth fighting for. This is worth voting for. This is what President Donald Trump stands for.”
Sandmann ended his speech by putting on a MAGA hat like he was wearing in the video.
The president’s youngest daughter, Tiffany Trump, has largely stayed out of the spotlight, but was one of four Trump family members speaking Tuesday evening, plus the president.
Trump, a recent graduate of Georgetown Law School, used her speech to tear into the media companies, and accused them of suppressing diverse voices. “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,” she said.
“Ask yourselves why are we prevented from seeing certain information? Why is one viewpoint promoted while others are hidden,” she asked. “The answer is control — and because division and controversy breeds profit.”
Her father, she claimed, would challenge “media monopolies to ensure that America’s constitutional freedoms are upheld.”
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds
Reflecting on the recent derecho that ravaged Iowa, Reynolds said that in addition to the support Iowans offered one another, “someone else also had our back: Our president.”
“When the winds had finished raging and the cleanup had only begun, he showed up. You might not know, because the national media didn’t report it. But the Trump administration was here. In full force,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also recalled the response from the Trump administration last year after floods devastated communities in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, and said Mr. Trump approved federal aid for those states in days.
ticked off a list of his father’s accomplishments during his first term in office, touching upon his judicial appointments, his overhaul of the tax code with the GOP-controlled Congress and his foreign policy agenda.
Trump sought to draw distinctions between his father and Joe Biden, calling the former vice president “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.”
Some of his attacks on Biden were at least partly or entirely false.
“Biden has pledged to defund the police and take away our cherished Second Amendment,” Trump claimed. But this is not true. Biden has repeatedly said he does not support defunding the police. He did tell liberal activist Ady Barkan that he supports redirecting some funding from police to things like mental health counseling and social services.
Trump also claimed, “Biden has pledged to stop border wall construction and give amnesty and healthcare to all illegal immigrants,” a statement that is partially true. Biden pledged earlier this month there would “not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.” And he has also said he plans to send Congress “a bill to provide for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people.”
However, the former vice president’s “unity task force” says undocumented immigrants would be able “to purchase unsubsidized coverage in the ACA marketplaces.”
In closing his remarks, Eric Trump addressed his father directly, declaring, “You are making America strong again, you are making America safe again, you are making America proud again. And, yes, together with the forgotten men and women, who are finally forgotten no more, you are making America great again!”
Acting DHS secretary and Trump administer naturalization ceremony
Mr. Trump and acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf oversaw a naturalization ceremony with five participants, in a ceremony taped in the White House. The Trump administration has taken unprecedented, unilateral actions to severely limit legal immigration.
It’s unclear when the video was filmed. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump nominated Wolf to be the permanent DHS secretary, despite a Government Accountability Office conclusion that Wolf and top immigration official Ken Cuccinelli were not appointed through a valid process.
Mr. Trump gave brief remarks, and named each participant, from Bolivia, Ghana, Sudan, India and Lebanon.
The ceremony marked the second time Tuesday night the president used official activities for political purposes, after he pardoned a man earlier in the night.
In remarks delivered from Jerusalem, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Mr. Trump’s work on foreign policy, highlighting the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds military force, the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and the recent peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
“The primary constitutional function of the national government is ensuring that your family, and mine, are safe and enjoy the freedom to live, to work, to learn and to worship as they choose,” Pompeo said. “Delivering on this duty to keep us safe and our freedoms intact, this president has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world.”
Pompeo said his own family is “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’s worked.”
First lady Melania Trump closed out the convention on Tuesday night by doing something not often heard from the White House Rose Garden — she offered sympathy for those grieving over lost loved ones from COVID-19 and recognized that the U.S. has more work to do to address racial unrest and division.
Trump, who has taken a quieter, behind-the-scenes role than recent other first ladies, offered support for her husband and his administration’s work. But she also offered a softer, sympathetic tone on the virus ravaging America and acknowledged the pain of racial unrest in the nation.
“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. My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one,” she said.
She thanked health care workers and first responders who put the country first. She said she has been moved by the way Americans have come together in such an uncertain time.
But Trump also addressed racial unrest in America in a way no one else has yet during the RNC, and in a way that her husband generally does not.
She recognized that, while the nation has made progress in racial equality, the nation has further to go. “It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of our history,” the first lady said.
The first lady also recognized her own story, as an immigrant from Slovenia. Her speech came in the same hour as her husband performing an immigration naturalization ceremony.
“As an immigrant and a very independent woman, I understand what a privilege it is to live here,” she said.
The first lady said she knows Mr. Trump is being underestimated this year, just like he was in 2016. But she also said she knows supporters will show up to the polls.
The first lady charted a different path than her husband and most other RNC speakers, saying she would not attack the only side as that serves only to “divide.”
Adam Brewster and Alex Tin contributed reporting.
CBSN will provide live coverage and analysis throughout the day, with full coverage beginning at 5 p.m. ET on “Red & Blue,” anchored by Elaine Quijano. At 8 p.m. ET, tune in ahead of each night’s convention speakers and live coverage of the proceedings. CBSN coverage continues at 11 p.m. ET with post-convention analysis.
From 10-11 p.m. ET, CBS television stations will broadcast live coverage anchored by “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell.