The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – On day one, Trump’s convention seeks to rev up base
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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 176,809. Tuesday, 177,279.
President Trump’s convention kicked off on Monday determined to reinforce the president’s standing with his base and to counter his vulnerabilities among independents, moderate Republicans, women and suburban voters who have drifted away from the president and perhaps warmed to former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Hill: Trump, GOP seek to rebut Democratic narrative on night one.
“This president has a record of strength and success,” said former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is widely seen as a top contender to seek the presidency in 2024 and described Biden as part of the Democratic Party’s most liberal or “socialist” wing. “The former vice president has a record of weakness and failure,” she said. “At home, the president is the clear choice on jobs and the economy. He’s moved America forward, while Joe Biden held America back.”
The Republican National Convention, which formally nominated Trump and Vice President Pence on Monday, presented the president as a pseudo chat-show host in the East Room and the Diplomatic Reception Room among groups of Americans his administration has helped. In a break with custom using pre-recorded political videos filmed inside the White House, Trump praised a small group of everyday employees who worked on the frontlines at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, and he brought together six U.S. hostages whose freedom his administration secured through negotiations.
The New York Times: A radical break from tradition: Trump blurs the line between government and his campaign with convention events staged at the White House.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only Black Republican in the Senate, argued that Biden failed to deliver changes he promised while serving in Washington “for 47 years,” and would turn America into “a socialist Utopia,” assisted by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the first Black woman picked to be a running mate on a major party ticket.
“This election is about your future, and it’s critical to paint a full picture of the records of Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” Scott said, zeroing in on a remark Biden told ABC News he should never have uttered. “Joe Biden said if a Black man didn’t vote for him, he wasn’t truly Black.”
The Hill: Tim Scott invokes Breonna Taylor, George Floyd in Trump convention speech.
The Associated Press: Rising stars, dark warnings during Republican convention.
Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times: The Republicans promised uplift and then tried to rewrite history.
The final three speakers of the evening — Haley, Donald Trump Jr. and Scott — presented arguments the Trump campaign is pushing this week, 70 days out from Nov. 3. While the younger Trump spent most of his speech tossing red meat to the GOP base, deriding “cancel culture” and offering a passionate defense of law enforcement, Haley and Scott offered olive branches to uncommitted voters as they mixed defenses of the president with messages aimed at others in the electorate.
Haley assailed the former VP’s work on the world stage, calling him “weak” on issues related to the Middle East and China while she said the president has been “tough” on strongman regimes. However, shortly before Haley’s address aired, Trump appeared at a taped event from the White House with the group of American hostages, during which he lauded Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for releasing pastor Andrew Brunson last year after first imprisoning him for roughly two years on disputed charges (The Hill).
“I have to say that, to me, President Erdogan was very good,” Trump said. Brunson worked in Turkey for 23 years as a pastor before being detained for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016. He denied any wrongdoing.
With her address, Haley walked a tightrope that Republicans are expected to straddle in the coming years, whether Trump wins or loses in November. The former South Carolina governor issued a defense of the Trump administration, but went out of her way to make her own case for the Republican Party in a tone rarely struck by the president.
The Hill: Haley: U.S. is “not a racist country.”
Dan Balz: Trump, GOP attack Biden as tool of the left, agent of socialism.
The Hill: Trump Jr. calls Biden the “Loch Ness monster of the swamp.”
Jason Zengerle, The New York Times Magazine: Donald Trump Jr. is ready. But for what, exactly?
The Hill: Kimberly Guilfoyle delivers dark (and high-decibel) convention address warning of Democratic destruction of the country.
Other speakers included everyday Americans, which the Trump campaign promoted as a contrast to the Democrats’ reliance on Hollywood stars, musical celebrities and elected officials during last week’s virtual convention. Among those who delivered moving addresses were activist Andrew Pollock, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Maximo Alvarez, a Cuban immigrant and businessman, and Amy Ford, a nurse who flew from West Virginia to New York City earlier this year to assist patients infected with the coronavirus.
Tim Alberta: What we learned from Night 1 of the Trump Show.
The Hill: Herschel Walker: Racism isn’t Donald Trump.
The Hill: Trump rails about mail-in voting during surprise convention remarks on Monday.
The Hill: On Monday, Republicans officially renominated Trump for president.
The Republican National Convention has no GOP platform in 2020, opting to embrace Trump’s “America-first” agenda and vote on a platform in 2024. Here’s the Trump campaign’s second-term agenda for jobs and the economy (Business Insider).
Niall Stanage: The Memo: Fear overshadows hope at GOP convention’s first night.
The New York Times: TV networks are challenged to perform real-time fact-checking during the GOP convention (here’s how the newspaper did it the first night, and The Associated Press version is HERE).
Trump’s approval ratings on the economy remain durable during a pandemic and high unemployment because of a confluence of events that begin with his enduring brand with conservative voters who see him as an experienced businessman and tough negotiator, reports The New York Times’ Jim Tankersley.
The Hill: Former President George W. Bush will not appear at Trump’s convention, reports Amie Parnes. The 43rd president and his family, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), do not support Trump. Might Bush cross party lines and endorse Biden, or will he simply sit 2020 out?
A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK
Facebook launches new Voting Information Center
Facebook is building the largest voter information effort in US history, starting with the new Voting Information Center, where you can find the latest resources about voting in the 2020 election. Our goal is to help register 4 million voters.
LEADING THE DAY
MORE POLITICS: Jerry Falwell Jr.’s status as president of Liberty University was up in the air on Monday after he withdrew his resignation from the position, with the school’s board of directors slated to meet later today to potentially determine the longtime Evangelical figure’s future at the university.
In a statement released Monday night, the university said that Falwell Jr. had rescinded his resignation after the reports emerged earlier in the day that he had stepped down.
“On the first day of classes of Liberty University’s fall term, Jerry Falwell Jr., agreed to resign as its President and from its Board of Directors, but following media reports about the resignation, withdrew it,” the statement said (The Hill).
Speculation surrounding Falwell’s position at the school ran rampant after Reuters reported on Monday that he and his wife, Becki Falwell (seen below), engaged in an seven-year extramarital affair with Giancarlo Granda, a former business associate who began the liaison at age 20. According to the report, Granda and Becki Falwell engaged in sexual acts while the evangelical leader watched on.
Shortly after the university told multiple outlets that he was stepping down, Falwell shot back, saying the reports were “completely false” (The Associated Press).
In early August, Falwell Jr. posted a picture of himself standing next to a young woman on Instagram. Both of them appeared with their pants unzipped, which he later said was a joke. Falwell Jr., the son of the late Southern Baptist evangelist Jerry Falwell Sr., took over at Liberty University after his father’s death in 2007. He endorsed Trump during the 2016 campaign and remained a close ally (The Hill).
Prior to the publication of the Reuters report, Falwell Jr. said in a lengthy statement that he is seeking help to deal with the “emotional toll” stemming from the situation, but did not say if he was an active participant in the affair (The Associated Press).
Vanity Fair: Jerry Falwell Jr., the pool boy, the affair, and the alleged extortion plot.
> Ohio: Conservative state Rep. John Becker (R) on Monday announced a long-shot bid to unseat Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine by campaigning with 10 proposed articles of impeachment asserting the governor improperly shut down the March presidential primary in Ohio, arbitrarily ordered some businesses closed and instituted an unpopular mask mandate to control transmission of COVID-19. Becker did not point to any laws DeWine may have breached to warrant impeachment. Democrats and the head of the Ohio Republican Party slammed Becker’s move (The Associated Press).
> Investigations involving Trump: On Monday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) agreed to delay enforcement of a subpoena against Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, to obtain years of financial records. The delay allows for another round of litigation, extending the nearly year long court battle over the subpoena in which Trump has lost every challenge, including a landmark decision last month in the Supreme Court (The Hill). … Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) on Monday revealed she is investigating whether Trump illegally inflated his assets to attract investors and secure loans (The Hill).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CONGRESS: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who testified before the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday, said none of the operational changes he put in place since his appointment in May are aimed at interfering with Election Day or mail-in ballots. But he conceded that Trump’s unfounded warnings about widespread ballot fraud are “not helpful” heading toward Nov. 3 (The Associated Press).
The Associated Press: “Not helpful” is the way the postmaster general on Monday described Trump’s attacks on mail-in ballots.
DeJoy, a wealthy donor to Trump’s campaigns, told members of the Oversight and panel during a hearing cleaved along party lines that he was “not engaged in sabotaging the election” and considers election mail his “No. 1 priority.”
He previously conceded that mail delivery slowed during the summer, although he chafed at Democratic requests to stop removing mail-sorting machines from post offices. DeJoy had a tough time explaining why he dismantled some equipment and stockpiled it outdoors in the rain or inside warehouses other than to say it was not needed. He conceded that his orders for punctual truck departures means that some Postal Service trucks leave their locations empty — without mail.
DeJoy acknowledged at a Senate hearing last week that there has been a “dip” in service but disputed reports of widespread problems. The postmaster general said many of the operational changes, such as removal of sorting machines, were underway before he arrived. Democratic lawmakers pressed him about who ordered the changes, but DeJoy did not answer.
The Hill: DeJoy was grilled about his knowledge of Postal Service policies. Does he know how much a postcard costs to mail? No.
> Senate filibuster: Democrats are grappling with how to handle the legislative filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is facing fierce pressure to nix the 60-vote hurdle, arguing he won’t be able to pass major parts of the party’s agenda without using the “nuclear option.” But he says his caucus will be united if it wins the majority this fall. Changing Senate rules to dispense with the filibuster would invite pushback from a small but crucial segment of his caucus (The Hill).
CORONAVIRUS: In the first lawsuit of its kind in the country, union opponents of Florida’s requirement that all public schools open for in-person instruction won support from a circuit court judge, who ruled on Monday that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran acted in violation of the state constitution. Judge Charles Dodson of the Leon County Circuit Court said the governor’s order “arbitrarily disregards safety” during the coronavirus pandemic and denies local school boards the ability to decide when students should return to classrooms (The New York Times).
> Therapeutics & trust: Scientists are concerned that Trump, through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is pushing convalescent plasma as an early but experimental treatment against COVID-19 infection, fearing it may not be the lifesaver he has described (The Hill). … Trump has publicly pressured the FDA to approve treatments and a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. The FDA’s emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma from virus survivors as a treatment for COVID-19 alarms some public health officials who fear politicizing the FDA could undermine confidence in any future vaccine the administration touts as effective against the coronavirus (The Hill).
On Monday night, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn issued an unusual correction via Twitter to his presentation at the White House with Trump on Sunday in support of the government’s emergency authorization for convalescent plasma: “I have been criticized for remarks I made Sunday night about the benefits of convalescent plasma. The criticism is entirely justified,” he wrote. “What I should have said better is that the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction.”
> Vaccine: The FDA in October, ahead of Election Day, is considering giving fast-track emergency use authorization to an experimental vaccine being developed in a partnership between AstraZeneca and Oxford University, based on results from a relatively small study, sources told The Financial Times (subscription, but also reported by Bloomberg News).
> Reinfection: Hong Kong University on Monday reported the first apparent confirmed case of a patient who contracted COVID-19 twice, raising questions about the durability of antibodies and the immune response. A 33-year-old man who was first infected by COVID-19 in late March seemingly contracted the virus again while traveling in Europe 4 ½ months later. U.S. scientists, who are familiar with anecdotal accounts of patients who appeared to become infected after recovering and testing negative for COVID-19, have questioned such conclusions, suggesting coronavirus tests may be flawed (STAT News).
> Antiviral surfaces: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved use by American Airlines of a surface coating designed to fight COVID-19 for up to a week as a transmission risk through human contact in public spaces. The EPA, interested in reviving trust in air travel, will allow the product’s use at American Airlines airport facilities in Texas and on planes with flights originating in the state (CNBC).
Greg Ip, The Wall Street Journal: New thinking on COVID-19 lockdowns: They’re overly blunt and costly.
> Fauci praises Pence: Describing himself as the “skunk at the garden party” as a virologist and physician on the White House coronavirus task force, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, praised the vice president, who chairs the task force, as smart, a listener and not ideological about responses to the coronavirus (The Hill).
> Sports: The Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami’s football program announced on Monday plans to allow 13,000 spectators to attend the first games of the season in September. The crowd size would represent roughly 20 percent of the stadium’s 65,000-seat capacity. Fifteen of the 32 NFL teams have announced they will not allow fans to attend games to start the season, with eight teams hoping to welcome a limited number of fans at games. On Sunday, Florida reported 2,974 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, compared with more than 10,000 new cases in mid-July, peaking with 15,300 on July 12 (ESPN).
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The U.S. Postal Service is a vital part of our healthcare system, by Susan Cantrell, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/32hH6uG
Russian President Vladimir Putin is no ordinary threat to America, by Dov S. Zakheim, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3aRyWgx
A MESSAGE FROM FACEBOOK
How Facebook is preparing for the US 2020 election
— Launched new Voting Information Center
— More than tripled our safety and security teams to 35,000 people
— Implemented 5-step political ad verification
— Providing greater political ad transparency
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session.
The Senate meets at 2:30 p.m. for a pro forma session. The full Senate is scheduled to meet on Sept. 8.
The president will attend first lady Melania Trump’s speech to the Republican National Convention at 10:30 p.m. The address will take place in the newly refashioned White House Rose Garden (USA Today).
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling to Israel, Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates through Aug. 28. Today he addresses GOP delegates in a speech delivered from Jerusalem, seen by historians and former U.S. officials as a controversial blend of U.S. diplomacy and domestic politics on foreign soil (The Hill).
INVITATION: Join The Hill’s virtual 2020 Conventions Hub! Be part of digital events and get the latest news about the Republican National Convention. The Big Questions RNC Morning Briefing taps the expertise of pollsters, party leaders and campaign veterans, moderated by The Hill’s editors daily at 11 a.m. EDT. PLUS, The Hill’s special virtual afternoon briefings go deeper on key issues, including today’s “On the Agenda: Affordable Housing” and “COVID-19 and the Way Forward” on Wednesday. RSVP HERE!
➔ Tech: TikTok announced Monday that it is suing the Trump administration over its executive order aimed at banning the short-form video app from the country. “We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees,” the company said in a press release (The Hill). … A back-to-school surge temporarily caused Zoom outages on Monday morning in some locations (CNBC). … The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Monday released a strategy to defend U.S. 5G networks against cyber threats (The Hill).
➔ International: A German hospital on Monday confirmed that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is in an induced coma under treatment in Berlin, was poisoned before he was sickened while in Russia. The specific poison has not yet been identified, according to the hospital (CNN). On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russia to investigate the poisoning of Navalny “with full transparency,” adding that those who committed the crime should be punished (Reuters).
➔ Courts: The California Supreme Court overturned the 2005 death sentence for Scott Peterson in the killing of Laci Peterson, his pregnant wife, on Monday due to “a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection.” The court has allowed prosecutors to push the same sentence once more, with the 2004 murder conviction being upheld. Scott Peterson was convicted of the Christmas Eve 2002 murder of Laci Peterson and their unborn son (NBC News).
And finally … In California, about 14,000 firefighters who have been battling three blazes took advantage Monday of more favorable weather to try to beat back a disaster that has killed seven people.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and state officials said they are cautiously optimistic California, with help from other states and even Australia, may be able to get ahead of the infernos this week (San Jose Mercury News).
An Associated Press reporter and photographer hiked the renowned Redwood Trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park on Monday and confirmed most of the ancient redwoods, some of them 2,000 years old, had withstood a massive wildfire that swept through last week (The Associated Press).
“That is such good news, I can’t tell you how much that gives me peace of mind,” said Laura McLendon, conservation director for the Sempervirens Fund, an environmental group dedicated to the protection of redwoods and their habitats.
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