Republican National Convention 2020: Day 1

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

Updated 11:00 AM ET, Tue August 25, 2020
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12:38 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

The first night of the RNC has wrapped. Here are some key moments of the night. 

From CNN's Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott and Donald Trump Jr.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott and Donald Trump Jr. Getty Images

Republicans kicked off night one of the Republican National Convention tonight with a theme focused around the "Land of Promise" after formally nominating President Donald Trump earlier in the day in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A slew of Trump surrogates and supporters delivered speeches from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.

Republicans tried to cast Trump as a caring, empathetic leader who worked to halt the spread of the coronavirus and created an inclusive economy, while being the only thing standing between the US and a devious Democratic Party.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott delivered the closing speech on the first night of the party's convention, and — invoking the names of Black people who had been shot by police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — he touched on his own roots as the son of mother who "worked 16 hours a day to keep food on the table" and a "roof over our heads" as they shared a two-bedroom house with his grandparents.

Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attempted to burnish Trump's image on the world stage even as America's standing has fallen across the globe during his presidency. She argued that unlike former President Barack Obama and Biden, Trump has projected strength around the world while Biden would be "good for Iran and ISIS" and "great for Communist China."

"He's a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologize, abstain and abandon our values," said Haley, the former governor of South Carolina. "Donald Trump takes a different approach. He's tough on China, and he took on ISIS and won, and he tells the world what it needs to hear."

Haley made that argument despite the fact that Trump is viewed unfavorably around the world. Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center found that across 32 countries, a median of 64% said they do not have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs, while only 29% expressed confidence in the President.

Trump made his first “surprise” appearance in tonight’s Republican National Convention alongside  frontline workers in the East Room of the White House. In his second appearance of the night, the President was featured in a video from the White House with American hostages freed by foreign countries during his administration. "We got you back," Trump told Sam Goodwin, who was held in Syria in 2019.

The other featured Americans were held abroad in countries that included in Turkey, Iran and Venezuela.

Catch up on more moments of the night here.

11:45 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: Trump Jr. claims China wants Biden to win. Here are the facts.

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Donald Trump Jr. referenced a report from the US intelligence community in claiming that China preferred Biden for the presidency because he would weaken the US economy, “Beijing Biden is so weak on China that the intelligence community recently assessed that the Chinese Communist Party favors Biden. They know he’ll weaken us both economically and on a world stage.”

Facts First: While Trump Jr. might be asserting his opinion here, his characterization of a recent assessment from the US intelligence community is misleading. The US intelligence community did not determine that China preferred Biden because he would economically or otherwise weaken the US. Rather, it outlined that China preferred that President Donald Trump lose the election because he was “unpredictable” and because of the many actions he has taken against China.

William R. Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement on Aug 7 updating the election threat landscape heading into the election noted that “China prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win reelection.” 

The statement went on to note that China has been critical of Trump’s “COVID-19 response, closure of China’s Houston Consulate” and “actions on Hong Kong, TikTok, the legal status of the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to dominate the 5G market.”Evanina’s report makes no mention of China preferring Biden because he would weaken the US economy. 

11:42 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: Trump Jr. falsely says middle class has done better under Trump than Obama 

From CNN's Tami Luhby  

In praising his father Monday night, Donald Trump Jr. pushed the idea that the middle class has benefitted from President Donald Trump’s economic policies. “After eight years of Obama and Biden’s slow growth, Trump’s policies have been like rocket fuel to the economy and especially the middle class,” he said at the Republican National Convention. 

Facts first: Actually, middle class income grew in the final years of the Obama administration but has stagnated under Trump. Median household income stayed essentially flat in 2018, at $63,200, breaking a three-year streak of increases, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. 

Median income ticked up only 1.8% in 2017, Trump’s first year in office, and then plateaued despite a strong job market and very low unemployment, according to the latest Census data, which predates the pandemic and this year’s recession.  

In the last two years of former President Barack Obama’s administration, median income rose more sharply – increasing 5.2% in 2015 and 3.2% in 2016. However, the middle class has not advanced much, if at all, over the past decade. Median income in 2018 was not statistically different than in 2007 or 1999, which was the high point. 

12:01 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Donald Trump Jr. makes case for his father’s reelection

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Donald Trump Jr. steps out on stage before pre-recording his address to the Republican National Convention at the Mellon Auditorium on August 24, in Washington.
Donald Trump Jr. steps out on stage before pre-recording his address to the Republican National Convention at the Mellon Auditorium on August 24, in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr. delivered a fiery speech at the Republican National Convention in which he argued that Americans “looking for hope” should look to his father, President Donald Trump. 

“If you’re looking for hope, look to the man who did what the failed Obama-Biden administration never could do and built the greatest economy our country has ever seen. And President Trump will do it again. We will be stronger than ever because when we put our mind to it, there is no obstacle that America can’t surmount,” Trump Jr. said. 

“Except, there’s a difference this time,” Trump Jr. said. “In the past, both parties believed in the goodness of America. We agreed on where we wanted to go, we just disagreed on how to get there. This time the other party is attacking the very principles on which our nation was founded: Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the rule of law.”

Trump Jr., a top campaign surrogate, said the economy was strong and the unemployment rate was low before the coronavirus pandemic, which he blamed on the Chinese Communist Party, hit the United States. He defended his father’s handling of the pandemic, and said his father “quickly took action and shut down travel from China,” provided ventilators to hospitals, delivered personal protective equipment to frontline workers, and “rallied the mighty American private sector to tackle this new challenge.”

“There’s more work to do, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. 

He took aim at 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden, arguing Biden’s policies would “stop our economic recovery cold.” Trump Jr. said he thought it was “madness” that Biden has said he would be willing to shut down the country if scientists recommended it to stop the coronavirus from spreading. 

Trump Jr. called Biden “Beijing Biden” — he said the Democratic nominee was “weak on China" — and said the former vice president was “basically the Loch Ness Monster of the Swamp.” He criticized Biden's views on immigration and his support of trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“If Democrats cared for the forgotten men and women of our country, they’d do exactly what President Trump is doing,” he said. “America is the greatest country on Earth. But my father’s entire worldview revolves around the idea that we can always do even better.”


11:26 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: Trump falsely claims the Postal Service is defending postal workers

From CNN's Paul Murphy

President Trump speaks to first responders at the White House.
President Trump speaks to first responders at the White House. Republican National Convention

After weeks of increasing political furor over recent cuts at the US Postal Service, President Donald Trump on Monday said he would not support agency cuts.

"We're taking good care of our postal workers. That I can tell you," the President said on the first night of the Republican National Convention. "Believe me, we're not getting rid of any our postal workers, you know." He went on to claim, "If anyone does it’s the Democrats, not the Republicans.”

Facts first: This is false. Internal USPS documents obtained by CNN contradict the President's statement. Before Postmaster General Louis DeJoy suspended many changes until after the election, the USPS was planning to drastically cut work hours in at least one district. Also, Democrats have not proposed laying off postal workers. 

In documents obtained by CNN, USPS managers held a "stand up talk," around July 13, telling workers they would be cutting roughly 100,000 to 124,000 work hours across the district, in all sectors — retail, delivery and processing. It was unclear how management would be implementing the changes. The USPS planned on cutting so many work hours in mail processing operations — 124,000 — the documents say it would be the equivalent of closing all processing plants in the Appalachian district for 29 days or eliminate an entire shift of workers for 86 days.

Delivery in urban areas would be reduced by 110,983 work hours. The documents equated the work hour cuts to: not delivering mail for 13 days, or stopping 43 city routes, or ending mail delivery by 25 minutes every day. 

It also included clerk and retail operations, which management was going to cut by 112,475 work hours. That's the equivalent of shutting post office retail operations for 90 days, district wide, according to the documents.

The initiative to cut work hours has since stopped because DeJoy paused them after intense public scrutiny. But union officials CNN has spoken to fear the changes will be brought back after the 2020 election.

They also are concerned because past work hour cuts have led to job cuts. 

In his congressional testimony, DeJoy alluded that significant changes are still coming to the USPS, they're just coming after the election now.

DeJoy operates independently of the President, but has significant ties to him as a mega-donor and the former finance chair for the Republican National Committee. In recent weeks, the President has pushed baseless accusations that sought to undermine trust in the USPS and has said he opposed funding the USPS because of mail-in voting.

11:08 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: Haley inaccurately suggests all Democrats want government-run health

From CNN's Tami Luhby

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stands on stage in an empty Mellon Auditorium while addressing the Republican National Convention on Monday in Washington.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stands on stage in an empty Mellon Auditorium while addressing the Republican National Convention on Monday in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley attacked Democratic positions on health care. 

“They want a government takeover of health care,” she said at the Republican National Convention on Monday. 

Facts first: This is true of some Democrats, but it’s not a policy Joe Biden supports. While he does advocate broadening the government’s involvement in the nation’s health care system, he does not back so-called “single payer” programs like Medicare for All, which were pushed by others in the primary.  

While Biden has agreed to back lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60, from the current 65, as a concession to the party’s progressive wing, he is not a supporter of Medicare for All, which would have essentially replaced the private health insurance system with a single, government-run plan. That idea was pushed by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. 

Biden would also increase the federal subsidies in Obamacare so more middle-class Americans could afford to buy coverage. 

His running mate, Kamala Harris, shifted her positions during her short campaign – at times strongly backing Medicare for All. But when she eventually unveiled her health care plan, it also included a role for private insurance companies. However, she now supports Biden’s proposal. 

12:20 a.m. ET, August 25, 2020

Sen. Tim Scott invokes names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor during RNC speech

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina stands on stage in an empty Mellon Auditorium while addressing the Republican National Convention on Monday in Washington.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina stands on stage in an empty Mellon Auditorium while addressing the Republican National Convention on Monday in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In the final major speech at the Republican convention tonight, South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott called on voters to look at the actions of each presidential candidate to guide them in the voting booth, and used his life story as an example for the night's theme — "Land of Promise."

Scott, the only Black Republican in the US Senate, cast the GOP vision for the country as one of opportunity for all Americans — praising school choice, touting opportunity zones and describing his electoral success in an overwhelmingly White district as one where "voters judged me not on the color of my skin, but on the content of my character."

He also invoked the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and asserted that this coming election is "not solely about Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It’s about the promise of America."

Scott, who has called some of the President's tweets "indefensible" and "racially offensive," criticized cancel culture and boasted the economic opportunities for minorities he said were made possible by Trump and the Republican agenda.

"We are always striving to be better. When we stumble, and we will, we pick ourselves back up and try again," Scott said. "We don’t give into cancel-culture, or the radical — and factually baseless — belief that things are worse today than in the 1860s or the 1960s."

He also sought to cast Biden as a president who would not defend minority communities, bringing up Biden's support for a 1994 crime bill often blamed for disparities in the US criminal justice system, and criticizing his inaction to assist Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Biden and his vice presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, "want a cultural revolution" that's "a fundamentally different America" which will look like "a socialist utopia," Scott said.

The South Carolina senator concluded by speaking about his grandfather, who was forced out of school to pick cotton.

"Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime," Scott said. "There are millions of families like mine across this nation...full of potential seeking to live the American dream. And I’m here tonight to tell you that supporting the Republican ticket gives you the best chance of making that dream a reality."


11:05 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: Jordan claims Democrats are trying to confiscate US citizens' guns

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. Republican National Convention

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan claimed that Democrats were trying to confiscate US citizens' guns.

“They’re also trying to take away your guns,” Jordan said.

Facts First: Some Democrats have supported a mandatory gun confiscation buy-back. Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, instead supports a voluntary buy-back program.

Along with banning the “manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Biden’s plan includes mandating that people who own assault weapons either sell theirs to the federal government or properly register them with the authorities.

11:03 p.m. ET, August 24, 2020

Fact check: Donald Trump Jr. claimed that Biden called the President xenophobic. Here's what we know.

From CNN's Daniel Dale

Donald Trump Jr.
Donald Trump Jr. Republican National convention

Donald Trump Jr. claimed that Joe Biden had called President Donald Trump a racist and xenophobe for having imposed travel restrictions on China.

Facts First: Biden did accuse Trump of “xenophobia” in an Iowa campaign speech the same day, Jan. 31, that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on China – but it was not clear if Biden was even aware of the travel restrictions at the time, and his campaign says he wasn’t. Biden first took a firm position on the travel restrictions in early April, when he expressed support for them.

Biden said on Jan. 31 that “this is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia — hysterical xenophobia — and fear-mongering to lead the way instead of science.” But he did not specifically mention the travel restrictions in that address.