Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – First lady casts Trump as fighter for the ‘forgotten’

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 176,809. Tuesday, 177,279. Wednesday, 178,524.

On the second night of the Republican National Convention, first lady Melania Trump and two of President Trump’s children, Tiffany and Eric, urged voters to support the president as a fighter who works for them. And through a diverse array of everyday workers, the evening showcased testimonials describing the president’s devotion to the economic wellbeing of “forgotten” Americans, a Trump theme since 2016.


From a Democratic mayor in Minnesota to a dairy farm owner from Wisconsin, and from a leader in the Navajo Nation to an African American ex-convict who received a pardon as part of the show, the Trump campaign described an unconventional president who holds “America in his heart,” the first lady said.


“My husband, our family … are here fighting for you,” she said during a live speech from the White House Rose Garden just hours after a drenching Washington rainstorm. “Donald Trump will not lose focus on you. He loves this country and he knows how to get things done,” she added as her husband and invited guests looked on from folding chairs in the newly renovated garden. “If you tell him it can’t be done, he just works harder,” she added to appreciative laughter.


Behind the convention storytelling that painted the president as a man working to keep Americans safe and to help them become more prosperous, the Trump campaign targeted states Republicans hope to win in November using selected guests and well-crafted videos of people who hail from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maine, Kentucky and Florida.


The Hill: Trump breaks with precedent on second night of convention.


Speakers took former Vice President Joe Biden to task as a career politician who has spent most of his life in Washington among liberal-left Democrats who “want to disrespect our flag [and] do not want our Pledge of Allegiance in our schools,” according to Eric Trump.


Reuters: Republicans make their case for Trump, cite his leadership on economy, religious freedom.


The Hill: Republican convention airs naturalization ceremony at the White House.


The Washington Post: RNC convention: A pardon and naturalization ceremony, plus criticism of the left and praise for Trump on the economy.


The first lady’s 26-minute address opened with the “greatest sympathy” for those who have lost loved ones and are under great stress during the pandemic — a rare message during two days of the GOP convention. Melania Trump, who became a U.S. citizen in 2006, also spoke about racial unrest. 


She raised some eyebrows when she urged “people to come together in a civil manner … to stop the looting and violence being done in the name of justice.


But she also said she was reluctant to lob political broadsides. “I don’t want to use this precious time attacking the other side,” she added. “That kind of talk only serves to divide the country further.”


The bottom line: It was a strikingly personal speech by a first lady who rarely makes public remarks, and delivered in a tone that is the exception rather than the rule in the Trump White House. And because she was criticized four years ago for borrowing elements of a convention speech by former first lady Michelle Obama, Melania Trump appeared intent on making this one uniquely her own. The punditocracy’s favorable reviews prompted some analysts to ask if she will continue to campaign for her husband.


The Hill: Melania Trump casts president as champion for American families.


The New York Times: Melania Trump’s unique role at the RNC: Expressing sympathy on the virus.


Tim Alberta, Politico: Political stunts, missed opportunities, and compassionate conservatism.





Eric and Tiffany Trump, half-siblings from two of the president’s three marriages, added their own personal touches. At the end of his speech, Eric referred to the president’s brother, his uncle, who died this month at age 71.


“In closing, I’d like to speak directly to my father,” he said. “I miss working alongside you every day but I’m damn proud to be on the front lines of this fight. I am proud of what you are doing for this country. Dad, let’s make Uncle Robert proud. Let’s go get another four years” (The Hill).


Tiffany delivered her first national speech since the 2016 convention, when she spoke at length about her father as she knew him. This year as a fresh graduate from law school, her remarks were more expansive as she focused on the economy, so-called cancel culture, misinformation and media bias (The Hill). 


Niall Stanage: The Memo: GOP seeks to detoxify Trump at convention.


The Hill: Trump grants a surprise pardon to activist Jon Ponder, a convicted bank robber, during Tuesday’s convention program.


Yahoo! News: Nicholas Sandmann, teen who faced off with Native American protester in viral video, praises Trump’s battle against “cancel culture.”


The Washington Post: Trump’s Black supporters bring attacks from the Internet to convention prime time, in answer to diverse Democratic ticket.


Reuters: Takeaways from Day Two of the Republican National Convention.


The Hill: GOP convention speaker’s video pulled after her tweet sharing a conspiracy theory.


Republicans interviewed by The Hill on Tuesday were quick to point out that Trump and the Republican National Committee did not publish a policy platform for this year’s convention. “The lack of a clear platform is disconcerting,” said one GOP lawmaker, who spoke on background to be candid. “What do Republicans stand for and believe — not just DJT!” They hope the convention can clarify a vision and policy proposals for a Trump second term. 


As The Hill’s Brett Samuels reports, the 2020 campaign playbook, with its heavy emphasis on the Republican base and voters of faith, law and order and the culture wars, looks a lot like the strategy that guided Trump to a surprise victory in 2016.


Amber Phillips, The Washington Post: Republicans’ dubious political calculus on Democrats and the suburbs. 


The New York Times: TV viewership for the first night of the Republican convention lagged about three million below that of the opener for the Democratic National Convention last week.





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.


Explore our new Voting Information Center now.



MORE POLITICS: Biden’s statement that he will largely forgo in-person appearances in battleground states and keep to the familiar confines of Wilmington, Del., because of the coronavirus has alarmed some Democrats who worry the risk-averse strategy is not sustainable.


One Democratic strategist told The Hill’s Amie Parnes that with schools reopening and people across the country on the move, Biden and his team need to reevaluate the plan with only 69 days until Election Day.


“I think a lot of people thought, ‘If [former President Obama] can get on a plane and travel, why can’t Biden?’” said one Democratic strategist, referring to Obama’s trip to Philadelphia from Massachusetts to deliver his Democratic National Convention address. 


“I know we all believe in science and building a contrast with Republicans on COVID. I get that. But no one I know is stuck at home. Folks are moving around,” the strategist continued. “I don’t know how sustainable this is for Biden.”


Last week, Trump headlined events in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Vice President Pence is slated to appear in Minnesota and Michigan on Friday, and in Wisconsin on Saturday for an in-person commencement address at Wisconsin Lutheran College.


Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) op-ed in The Washington Post: Voting is the best way to honor generations of women who paved the way for me





> Business world: Wall Street and business groups are bracing for the possibility of a blue sweep in Washington that would leave Democrats in charge of the White House and both chambers of Congress as the odds increase that the Senate will flip in November.


As Niv Elis writes, such a scenario could lead to sweeping policy changes affecting taxes, regulations, coronavirus relief and other economic policies.


“I would say that’s definitely a concern on a lot of investors’ minds,” said Judy Lu, CEO and founder of Blue Zone Wealth Advisors.


KETV7 Omaha: Former Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) to launch write-in bid for Senate as Democrat Chris Janicek won’t step aside.


> Falwell out: Jerry Falwell Jr., one of the leading figures in the evangelical world, announced his resignation on Tuesday as president of Liberty University after Reuters reported a day earlier that he and his wife, Becki Falwell, together engaged in a seven-year affair with a former business associate. 


In a statement, Liberty University said the school’s board of trustees had accepted Falwell Jr.’s resignation as president and chancellor of the university. as well as his resignation of his seat on the board. Both were effective immediately (The Hill). 


“That’s the only reason I resigned: because I don’t want something my wife did to harm the school I’ve spent my whole life building,” Falwell Jr. told The Associated Press. “I never broke a single rule that applies to staff members at Liberty, which I was. So I want everybody to know that.”


According to the Reuters report, Becki Falwell engaged in an affair with Giancarlo Granda, who said that the longtime university president would watch them have sex. 


Falwell Jr., the son of the late Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell Sr., was placed on leave in early August after he posted a photo on social media in which he stood next to a young woman with his pants unzipped. 


The Wall Street Journal: Jerry Falwell Jr. may be owed $10.5 million by Liberty University.


The Hill: Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, insists his party will win back the majority after November.


CONGRESS: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, plans to investigate whether Pompeo’s appearance at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday breached federal law or regulations barring partisan political activity by federal employees while executing their official duties (Reuters). The secretary appeared in a video recorded during a stop this week in Jerusalem. His travel expenses and staff salaries are covered by U.S. taxpayers. The administration maintains that the nation’s top diplomat spoke to convention delegates as “a private citizen,” an explanation disputed by officials who served during previous GOP and Democratic administrations.


The Trump administration and Secretary Pompeo have shown a gross disregard not only of basic ethics, but also a blatant willingness to violate federal law for political gain,” Castro said in a statement on Tuesday.


Fox News: Chris Wallace questions State Department explanation for Pompeo’s RNC speech delivered from Israel. “People can think it’s a big deal, they can think that’s a little deal, but all of this has never happened before,” Wallace said on-air. “And it’s worth noting.”


Reuters: Pompeo speech sparks criticism, investigation.


> Vote by mail: Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), a keynote speaker on Monday at the Republican National Convention who is often mentioned as a potential White House aspirant in the future, parted company with Trump over mail-in ballots this fall. While the president without evidence decries mail-in voting as susceptible to election fraud, Scott on Tuesday predicted voting by mail “will work out just fine.”


I have a lot of confidence in our electoral process,” Scott said during an NBC News interview (The Hill).


About 78 percent of eligible voters nationwide this year have the opportunity to vote by mail rather than in person during the pandemic, if they choose.


Addendum: Trump campaign chairman Bill Stepien told Politico during a Tuesday interview that the concern is not with states that implemented voting by mail in the past but with states hastily making a transition to mailed ballots before November. “I think in the states in which mail-in voting has already occurred, it’s fine by me,” he said. “They’ve shown in most instances that it works — it’s been proven over years. … I think our concern on the campaign is when 80 days, 90 days out from Election Day, you have Democrat governors changing the rules.” 


> Senate majority: The future of the Biden agenda is playing into the battle for the Senate majority as Democrats argue they must flip the upper chamber to make legislative progress and confirm judicial and executive nominees.


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton points out, the last time a new president came to office with the Senate controlled by the opposing party was in 1968 with former President Nixon. In today’s hyper-partisan environment, Biden’s ability to shape the courts and fill vacancies depends on a Senate controlled by Democrats. His party is taking that argument to donors and voters.  


> QAnon: Bipartisan lawmakers on Tuesday joined forces to introduce a House resolution to condemn the far-right conspiracy QAnon as a dangerous, anti-Semitic cult repudiated by the FBI as a potential domestic terrorist threat. Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) are cosponsors of the latest effort in Congress to denounce QAnon, which has grown in the United States and has attracted kudos from Trump for favoring his presidency (Axios).




CORONAVIRUS: COVID-19 continues to claim nearly 1,000 lives in the United States each day, although the total number of confirmed new cases reported daily dropped 21 percent since early this month, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The decline in new cases may reflect more mask-wearing and insufficient testing, even as it is being greeted as encouraging news (The Associated Press).


> Un-masked: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued guidance to retail workers not to take it upon themselves to confront customers who are not wearing masks while shopping, dining or congregating during the pandemic. The warning? Some people get violent when told to mask up (Bloomberg News).


> Inauguration: January’s swearing-in for either Trump or Biden may be a “socially distanced” event that discourages mass crowds because of COVID-19, according to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (The Hill).


> Reinfection: Two European patients are confirmed to have been reinfected with COVID-19, raising concerns about people’s immunity to the coronavirus as the world struggles to tame the pandemic and develop an effective vaccine. The cases, in Belgium and the Netherlands, follow a report this week by researchers about a Hong Kong man who had contracted a different strain of the virus four and a half months after recovering and testing negative for the virus (Reuters). 


> Global developments: South Korea announced on Tuesday that it is shuttering schools in Seoul and shifting those classes online after a coronavirus outbreak in the metro area. The country reported 280 new cases on Tuesday, and South Korea reported triple-digit totals of new cases for 12 consecutive days. Students have been relegated to in-person instruction since May. Remote learning will tentatively continue until Sept. 11 (The New York Times). … Gavin Williamson, Great Britain’s education minister, announced on Wednesday that students will be required to wear face masks in communal areas of secondary schools in regions that are under local lockdowns (Reuters).


> Sports: World record sprinter and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt tested positive for the coronavirus and is self-isolating at his home in Jamaica after last week celebrating his 34th birthday with a mask-free party, Jamaica’s health ministry confirmed late on Monday. Bolt holds world records in the 100m and 200m distances (Reuters).




The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


Trump’s unlikely path to victory, by William A. Galston, columnist, The Wall Street Journal.  


The Senate is on vacation while Americans starve, by economists Janet Yellen and Jared Bernstein, opinion contributors, The New York Times. 


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


Learn about these efforts and more.


The House will convene on Friday at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session.


The Senate meets on Friday at 2 p.m. for a pro forma session. The full Senate is scheduled to meet on Sept. 8. 


The president at 3 p.m. will meet with medical professionals at the White House to discuss COVID-19. He will participate in the third night of the Republican convention, which includes Pence, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump, among other speakers. 


Pompeo is traveling in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates today after visiting Israel and Sudan this week. The secretary will meet Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa as well as King Hamad Al Khalifa in Manama, Bahrain. In the afternoon, Pompeo will meet with Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.


INVITATION: Join The Hill’s virtual 2020 Conventions Hub! During 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, join today’s virtual afternoon briefing, “COVID-19 and the Way Forward.” RSVP HERE! 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


➔ Wisconsin violence: One person was killed and at least two injured in protest shootings overnight in Kenosha, Wis., as police today searched for a suspect armed with a long gun (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). … Gov. Tony Evers (D) of Wisconsin on Tuesday declared a state of emergency after police on Sunday shot and wounded Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, during an event shared via cellphone video on social media. Blake’s shooting sparked violent protests that left government buildings and businesses across the city burned and looted following two nights of upheaval. Evers said he authorized 250 Wisconsin National Guard troops to protect critical infrastructure and assist Kenosha authorities (The Wall Street Journal). The southeastern Wisconsin city became the nation’s latest flashpoint after cellphone footage of Blake, 29, showed police shooting him multiple times in the back. He appeared to lean into his parked SUV while his three children sat in the vehicle (CBS News). Blake was hospitalized in Milwaukee with paralysis that his attorney said could be permanent. An attorney for the Blake family said a civil lawsuit against the police department will be filed. Police have said they responded to a domestic dispute but have said little about the shooting. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating (The Associated Press). … In response to the Kenosha, Wis., police shooting of Blake, the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday held a meeting to discuss ways to respond, including potentially boycotting the first game of the second-round playoff series on Thursday against the Boston Celtics as a way for the team to publicly promote a full investigation (ESPN).





> Weather: Hurricane Laura is now expected to slam into the Louisiana and Texas coasts as a catastrophic Category 4 storm by tonight with winds up to 110 mph (The Associated Press). At least 20 million people are in the storm’s path and half a million have been ordered to evacuate. The hurricane is “rapidly intensifying” this morning over the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center says (CBS News).


International: The Kremlin on Tuesday denied that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the confirmed poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is hospitalized and being treated in Germany after becoming ill while recently traveling from Siberia to Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday, “We cannot take the accusations you have voiced seriously,” calling the claims “empty noise” (Politico). … Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited the hospital twice in the last two weeks for unspecified health examinations and will hold a news conference on Friday to discuss his medical condition after again consulting doctors (Reuters).


➔ Interior Department: The White House earlier this month pledged to withdraw the nomination of acting Bureau of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley amid opposition from Democrats and conservation groups. Pendley, however, remains in the job in violation of his agency’s rules. The executive branch drama is the latest example of how political appointees in the Trump administration shut out career officials, according to critics (The Hill).


And finally … After 17 years, the cast of “The West Wing” is set to reunite. Actors who starred in the award-winning political drama will reconvene to promote “When We All Vote,” the voter registration initiative co-chaired by former first lady Michelle Obama.


According to HBO Max, Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Martin Sheen will take part in a special theatrical stage presentation of “Hartsfield’s Landing,” an episode from the show’s third season. 


“[Executive producer Tommy Schlamme] and I are incredibly excited to be getting The West Wing cast back together for this staged reading and to support When We All Vote in their efforts to get all of us involved in this election,” show creator Aaron Sorkin said (The Hill).




Tags Brad Ashford Chris Wallace Denver Riggleman Donald Trump Eric Trump Janet Yellen Joaquin Castro Joe Biden Joni Ernst Lara Trump Melania Trump Michelle Obama Roy Blunt Tim Scott Tom Emmer Tom Malinowski Tony Evers Vladimir Putin
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