2020 R.N.C. Live Updates: Trump Seeks to Cast Doubt on Integrity of Election as Convention Opens

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    The president baselessly accused Democrats of “using Covid to steal the election.” Over two dozen Republicans who served in Congress endorsed Joe Biden.

    The N.Y. attorney general asked a judge to order Eric Trump to testify about the Trump family business.

    President Trump was nominated for a second term on Monday as the Republican National Convention got underway in Charlotte, N.C., and he used a surprise speech at the convention not to preview a second-term agenda, but to cast doubt in advance on the November election and attack mail-in voting, accusing Democrats of “using Covid to steal the election.”

    Mr. Trump — who took the stage as the crowd chanted “Four more years!” — began with a provocation.

    “If you want to really drive them crazy, you say 12 more years,” Mr. Trump said.

    Mr. Trump, who is seeking re-election amid a pandemic that his administration has failed to contain, widespread economic pain and racial unrest, used his speech to rally the party by focusing on the strength of the stock market and attacking Democratic officials who imposed coronavirus restrictions.

    He repeated his unfounded allegations that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his opponent in the coming election, had spied on his campaign in 2016. “We caught them doing really bad things,” he said. “Let’s see what happens. They’re trying it again.”

    Mr. Trump criticized Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, telling the crowd in Charlotte that Mr. Cooper and other Democratic governors had enacted virus restrictions simply to hurt his re-election chances and would lift them after Election Day.

    “You have a governor who is in a total shutdown mood,” he said. “I guarantee you on November 4, it will all open up.”

    Though shutdowns caused by the pandemic have left millions of Americans unemployed, and new rounds of relief have been held up in Washington, Mr. Trump focused on his economic successes.

    Mr. Trump offered his remarks to a crowd that frequently broke into applause, a dramatic contrast with last week’s Democratic convention, which was held largely remotely out of concerns that indoor gatherings could spread the coronavirus. The Republicans have made their decision to hold an in-person convention a political statement in itself.

    With tens of millions of Americans expected to vote by mail in order to avoid contracting the virus at polling places, the president continued his monthslong assault on voting by mail and repeated unfounded accusations that it was part of a Democratic plot to hand the election to Mr. Biden.

    And he continued to try to paint Mr. Biden, an establishment figure in politics for decades who has been running a centrist campaign, as radical. He demanded that Mr. Biden put out a list of judges he would appoint, as Mr. Trump did in 2016.

    “He can’t do it,” he said. “The radical left will demand he appoints super-radical-left wild crazy justices going into the Supreme Court.”

    While the Democrats at their convention last week made the death toll from the pandemic — now past 175,000 — a centerpiece of their case, and tried to lay the blame for it at Mr. Trump’s feet, the president mentioned the virus’s victims almost as an afterthought at the end of his rambling, nearly hourlong speech.

    “We will never forget the 175,000 people — that will go up,” he said, adding the toll would have been millions more without travel bans he implemented.

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Vice President Mike Pence took the stage to accept his renomination Monday morning as the Republican National Convention kicked off, pitching the Trump-Pence ticket as leaders of a party that stood for “free market economics, secure borders” and the “right to life.”

    “We’re going to Make America Great Again, again,” Mr. Pence told the crowd of cheering — but socially-distanced — delegates at the Charlotte Convention Center.

    He said the week would make it clear that the president will “always stand with the men and women who serve on the thin blue line of law enforcement.”

    “Four more years means more judges,” Mr. Pence said. “Four more years means more support for our troops and our cops. It’s going to take at least four more years to drain that swamp.”

    Rebutting the Democrats’ charge that the Nov. 3 election amounted to a referendum on democracy itself, Mr. Pence told the delegates, “the economy is on the ballot.”

    Mr. Pence’s speech came as delegates formally cast their votes for Mr. Trump at the opening-day roll call. Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, offered opening remarks in which she framed Mr. Trump as the empathetic candidate on the ballot, in contrast with his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

    Ms. McDaniel said last week’s Democratic convention was “depressing, doom and gloom, night after night,” calling it “a masterpiece in fiction about President Trump’s record and what he has accomplished for the American people.”

    “Their argument for Joe Biden boiled down to the fact they think he’s a nice and empathetic guy,” she said. “Well, let me tell you, raising taxes on 82 percent of Americans is not empathetic.” She seemed to be referring to Mr. Biden’s vow to undo President Trump’s signature 2017 tax cut, which resulted in lower taxes for middle-income earners as well as the wealthy. Mr. Biden pledged on Sunday that if elected he would hold the line on taxes for Americans earning under $400,000.

    Swaying disillusioned Republicans and unaffiliated voters has become a point of emphasis for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., whose campaign released on Monday a list of 27 former Republican members of Congress who had endorsed him against President Trump.

    The first name on the list was former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who drew the ire of Mr. Trump and Republicans in 2018 when he voted to delay the Supreme Court confirmation vote of Brett M. Kavanaugh so that the F.B.I. could investigate sexual assault allegations against the judge.

    Mr. Flake ultimately voted to confirm Justice Kavanaugh and left office less than three months later, at the end of his term.

    In a Facebook Live broadcast on Monday afternoon that was shared by the Biden campaign, Mr. Flake said that he was gravely concerned about Mr. Trump’s conduct as president. He said that under Mr. Trump, the country had given in to the impulse to mistake political opponents for enemies.

    “I was a Republican long before the president ever called himself one, and I’ll be a Republican long after identifying as such is no longer useful to him,” Mr. Flake said. “Principle does not go in and out of fashion, does not chase ratings or play to the base or care much about polls, and principle is a provenance of no one party.”

    Mr. Flake said that he didn’t always agree with Mr. Biden, but that under a Biden administration, the nation would be able to preserve the civic space where Republicans and Democrats could disagree on policy matters without fear of reprisal.

    In addition to Mr. Flake, the list of Republican endorsements included those of former Senator John Warner of Virginia, former Senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, former Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and former Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut.

    “For me, what matters is that we have a president who speaks to our better nature,” Mr. Shays said in an interview on Monday. “Donald Trump speaks to our darker nature.”

    Mr. Shays emphasized that he wasn’t just supporting Mr. Biden because of his disapproval of Mr. Trump. He said that Mr. Biden was authentic and that the two had worked together on women’s issues when Mr. Biden was a senator.

    “I would have been proud to write the speech that Biden gave,” Mr. Shays said of Mr. Biden’s keynote speech at last week’s Democratic convention. “I printed it out and thought, This is the person I want to be my president.”

    The New York State attorney general’s office has asked a judge to order President Trump’s son Eric to testify under oath in an inquiry into the Trump family’s real estate firm, court papers show.

    The filings in state court in Manhattan, made public on Monday, also ask the judge to order the real estate company, the Trump Organization, to hand over documents about four properties the attorney general’s office is investigating as part of an inquiry begun last year, one that the office says the company has stalled for months.

    Eric Trump, the executive vice president of the company, abruptly canceled an interview under oath with the attorney general’s office last month, and last week the Trump Organization told the office that the company and its lawyers would not comply with seven subpoenas related to the investigation.

    Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, started the civil inquiry in March 2019 after President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, told Congress that the president had inflated his assets in financial statements to banks when seeking loans and understated them elsewhere to reduce his taxes.

    The Trump Organization properties under investigation include the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.

    The filings come as the president faces legal actions on multiple fronts. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has suggested in court filings that it is investigating possible bank and insurance fraud by the president and the Trump Organization.

    The extent to which President Trump has bent the Republican Party to his will was underscored this week when the party announced that it would not adopt a new platform this year, but would “continue to enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda.”

    The decision not to adopt a new Republican Party platform, the party’s main statement of policy, was extraordinary. The resolution that the Republican National Committee passed over the weekend forgoing a new one anticipated criticism, claiming that the “media has outrageously misrepresented the implications” of not adopting a new platform and calling on the media to accurately report the party’s “strong support” for the president.

    Criticism came swiftly. William Kristol, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle who went on to serve as the editor of The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, and who has emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s most prominent Republican critics, wrote on Twitter: “It’s no longer the Republican party. It’s a Trump cult.”

    The Republicans, in 2020, for the first time, have no platform. Instead: « RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda. » It’s no longer the Republican party. It’s a Trump cult.https://t.co/BATeUiXRYu

    Party platforms are nonbinding documents that tend to lay out policy positions and principles. A new Republican Party platform would have been instructive at a moment when Mr. Trump has broken with party orthodoxy on a host of issues, including his opposition to free trade agreements; a foreign policy that has attempted to forge closer ties with Russia even as he has antagonized longstanding European allies; and a fiscal policy under which deficits were rising even before the pandemic forced more federal spending.

    The Republican National Committee said that it was forgoing a new platform because fewer people were attending the convention this year because of coronavirus restrictions, and it “did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement.” The Democrats, who held their convention remotely, nonetheless adopted a new platform last week.

    On Sunday, Mr. Trump released a list of broad statements about his agenda for a second term, under the heading “President Trump: Fighting for You!” They included promises of millions of new jobs, a vow to “hold China fully accountable for allowing the virus to spread around the world” and a “return to normal in 2021.”

    Four years ago, President Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland over persistent opposition within his own party. There was a hopeless, last-minute effort to battle his nomination on the convention floor. There was Senator Ted Cruz’s admonition to voters to “vote your conscience,” in lieu of a call for party unity. There was Gov. John Kasich — the chief executive of the host state — declining to attend.

    Today, Mr. Trump will be renominated for a second term as president with no meaningful opposition within his party. His advisers have promised the Republican convention will make a variety of appeals to voters about the economy, national security and law enforcement. But one message is clear from the start: This is Mr. Trump’s party now.

    There is much that remains uncertain about the Republican National Convention, including how exactly organizers intend to focus its message. Mr. Trump and his team have criticized the Democratic convention last week as too downbeat and promised a more optimistic set of speeches this week, even as Mr. Trump has delivered some of his bleakest, most caustic and divisive stump speeches in recent days.

    But what is certain is that Mr. Trump, his family and his loyalists will dominate the week. The president himself is expected to make an appearance all four nights of the convention, and given his thirst for media attention, it may not be in the same understated manner as Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s cameo appearances last week. The rest of the announced speakers are all reliable Trump lieutenants, from Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, who recently hosted the president at Mount Rushmore, to Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador who has been a reliable pro-Trump surrogate on television and social media.

    The kickoff night features both Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the conservative media personality who is his girlfriend, as well as Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who brandished firearms at Black protesters and were charged with unlawful use of firearms.

    If four years ago the convention was a test of whether Republicans could unite for the general election, this year the party is confronting a different question: With Mr. Trump firmly in charge and also clearly trailing his Democratic challenger, can his version of the Republican Party’s message reach voters who do not support him already?

    Republican National Committee members and delegates gathered inside the Charlotte Convention Center Monday morning for their roll call to renominate President Trump.

    Despite a statewide mask mandate, many of the delegates gathering were not wearing masks indoors. Members of the Hawaii delegation posed for pictures with their arms around each other and no face masks on. Everyone participating is being tested for the coronavirus every day.

    The daily programming for the convention begins at 9 a.m. Eastern time Monday through Thursday but, as with the Democratic convention, the big speeches will happen at night.

    The Times will stream the convention every evening, accompanied by chat-based live analysis from our reporters and real-time highlights from the speeches. The official livestream will be available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and Amazon Prime. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News will cover the convention from 10 to 11 p.m. every night; CNN from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.; MSNBC from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.; PBS from 8 to 11 p.m.; and C-SPAN at 9 a.m. and then at 8:30 p.m.

    President Trump is expected to speak every day. Other major speakers on Night 1 include Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and a former ambassador to the United Nations; Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate; and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son and a prominent surrogate on the campaign trail and on Twitter.

    Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fund-raising official for Mr. Trump and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.

    State Representative Vernon Jones of Georgia, a Democrat who is part of Mr. Trump’s response to Republicans who endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. last week.

    Kim Klacik, the Republican candidate in Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District. The district is safely Democratic, but Ms. Klacik, who is Black, went viral for an ad in which she said Democrats did not care about Black lives.

    Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a couple who were filmed pointing guns at peaceful Black protesters in St. Louis. Mr. Trump shared the video on Twitter, and the McCloskeys were charged with felonies.

    Tanya Weinreis, a small-business owner in Montana who received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program.

    Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, appeared before lawmakers again on Monday, this time testifying to the Democratic-run House oversight committee. He faced much tougher questioning than he did on Friday, when he testified before a committee of the Republican-run Senate.

    In his opening remarks, Mr. DeJoy continued defending the cost-cutting measures he has put in place and pushed back against suggestions that the changes were intended to influence the 2020 election by making mail-in voting less reliable.

    He told the lawmakers that while some changes he had implemented, such as reducing overtime, had caused delays, those issues were being addressed.

    “While we have had temporary service decline, which should not have happened, we are fixing this,” Mr. DeJoy said.

    Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the oversight committee, said the expectation that his changes at the agency would not cause mail delays reflected “incompetence at best.”

    After Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts, repeatedly asked whether Mr. DeJoy would return the mail-sorting machines that have already been removed from post offices, the postal leader barked, “I will not.” He then added that Mr. Lynch had spread “misinformation” during his furious monologue.

    When introducing Mr. DeJoy, Representative Mark Walker, Republican of North Carolina, accused Democrats of trying to “cancel” Mr. DeJoy for purely partisan reasons.

    “How sad is it when the cancel culture has reached the halls of Congress,” Mr. Walker said. “The man sitting before this committee today is not who the Democrats have villainized him to be. He’s here today because he supported President Trump.”

    Democrats have been leery of Mr. DeJoy’s role as a megadonor to Republicans and President Trump, who has sown distrust about mail-in voting on Sunday. Mr. DeJoy acknowledged in the House committee hearing that he did not find Mr. Trump’s comments helpful.

    “I have put word around to different people that this is not helpful,” he said, in response to a question from Representative Gerald Connolly of Virginia.

    When President Trump’s strategists mapped out their plans for the critical week leading to the Republican National Convention that would nominate him for a second term, the schedule somehow did not include a sensational arrest on a Chinese billionaire’s yacht.

    The last thing the president wanted to see as he kick-starts his campaign was the architect of his last campaign hauled away in handcuffs on charges of bilking his own supporters in a build-the-wall fund-raising scam. Yet there was Stephen K. Bannon, the mastermind of the 2016 election, with his hair now long and scraggly and his face weathered, marched into court and called a crook.

    That was only part of the president’s tough week or so. In recent days, the Senate released a damning bipartisan report on Russia’s efforts to help Mr. Trump win in 2016. A government agency concluded that a member of the president’s cabinet is serving in violation of the law. A court rejected Mr. Trump’s effort to keep his tax returns secret. Unemployment claims ticked back up. And former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. smoothly pulled off his own convention without the gaffes Mr. Trump had predicted.

    If that were not enough, the president found his family dysfunction playing out in public at the same time he was presiding over a funeral for his younger brother at the White House. Tapes secretly made by his niece over the past couple of years and provided to The Washington Post captured the president’s own sister saying that he “has no principles, none,” railing about “his goddamned tweet and lying” and denouncing his “phoniness” and “cruelty.”

    It was a week that in some ways encapsulated the volatile Trump presidency and the baggage he brings into the contest this fall with Mr. Biden: a team at constant war with the criminal justice system, a president defiant of the norms respected by others in the Oval Office, a once-healthy economy sputtering amid a pandemic, an opposition roused and unified by mutual antipathy for the incumbent and discord even among those closest to him.

    Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s counselor and one of his longest-serving aides, said on Sunday night that she planned to leave the White House next week.

    In a statement posted on Twitter, Ms. Conway said she was stepping away from a demanding job to spend more time with her four teenage children. “This is completely my choice and my voice,” she said. “In time, I will announce future plans. For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.”

    Since the 2016 campaign, when she served as Mr. Trump’s final campaign manager, Ms. Conway has been one of the president’s most visible defenders, winning his admiration for animated sparring sessions with cable news hosts — and earning criticism and derision from the president’s detractors.

    Young people who vote: They are the holy grail of any presidential campaign, but regularly getting them energized and excited is a yet-to-be-cracked formula.

    But maybe excited is too high a bar. Ilana Glazer, the comedian and co-creator of the TV series “Broad City,” has a new project that rests less on building on enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket, and more on enthralling people with how voting can bring about tangible change. In this case, that change is getting rid of President Trump.

    She’s approaching it from a shared antipathy to the occasionally pedantic nature of politics, which she feels can intimidate younger or newer participants.

    “I really resent how I’m supposed to feel stupid if I don’t know how the system works,” Ms. Glazer said in an interview. “The system is perfectly designed to evade me.”

    After what she described as “the nightmare election” of 2016, Ms. Glazer, 33, dedicated much of her past four years to progressive activism through her nonprofit group, Generator, aiming to connect with exactly that kind of uneasy liberal. Now, in the final, 70-day sprint to the election, Ms. Glazer is teaming up with the liberal super PAC Pacronym and introducing a new project titled “Cheat Sheet for the Voting Booth.”

    “No matter what, the white supremacist, narcissistic, sociopathic individual occupying the White House has got to go,” Ms. Glazer explains in the project’s introduction. “And he needs to be SHOVED out; he needs to lose by a landslide, baby.”

    For most of the past decade, North Carolina was a showcase for the Republican Party’s growth — its strength in the suburbs, in rural areas and in races up and down the ballot proving that it could dominate in parts of the country where demographics favored the Democrats. Now it could be a victim of its own excess.

    After victories in 2010, when Republicans took control of the state legislature for the first time in more than 100 years, and in 2012, when a Republican won the governor’s race, they used their power in the State Capitol to carry out a sweeping conservative agenda that included tax cuts, caps on medical malpractice damages and ending tenure for teachers.

    But some of their most contentious moves — creating highly gerrymandered congressional districts, restrictions on gay and transgender rights that prompted national boycotts, and curbs on the power of the Democratic governor — backfired with voters and the courts, which struck down many of them.

    Now, embattled Republican lawmakers find their fates intertwined with those of President Trump, a deeply polarizing figure who won here in 2016 by three percentage points but has pushed many voters to their limits with his hectoring style and mismanagement of a coronavirus outbreak that is still spreading throughout the state.

    North Carolina was supposed to be a more promising opportunity for Republicans, which is why they selected Charlotte, its largest city, as the site of the Republican National Convention this year. But when the pandemic made that kind of mass gathering unsafe, Mr. Trump got into a spat with state and local officials and moved the festivities to Jacksonville, Fla., only to cancel once that plan proved unfeasible.

    A much more scaled-down gathering is taking place in Charlotte this week as several hundred Republican officials from across the country meet to vote on relatively mundane party matters — their movements tracked by Bluetooth sensors and their faces shielded by masks.

    Polls show former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. tied with Mr. Trump in the state. And the president’s standing is dragging down the incumbent Republican senator, Thom Tillis, who is trailing his Democratic opponent, Cal Cunningham, in most polls.



    SOURCE: https://www.w24news.com

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