Republican National Convention 2020: Day 3

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

Updated 1:04 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020
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12:07 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Fact check: Jack Brewer claims Trump didn't call White supremacists "very fine"

From CNN's Nate McDermott

Jack Brewer, a former NFL player and a member of Black Voices for Trump, claimed that Donald Trump didn’t call White supremacists “very fine.”

“Are you going to allow the media to lie to you by falsely claiming that he said there were ‘very fine white supremacists’ in Charlottesville? He didn’t say that, it’s a lie.” 

Facts First: The media never claimed that Trump said “there were ‘very fine white supremacists’ in Charlottesville,” so while Brewer is correct that Trump didn’t say that, but he’s wrong to suggest the media reported Trump as specifically saying that.

In the aftermath of 2017’s Unite the Right rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump said of the organizers “you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

Trump’s comments came at a news conference on Aug. 15, 2017, and he was referring to a march that took place on Aug.11. It was widely reported in the media that the march was organized by White nationalists, led by White nationalists and that the people in the march were chanting White nationalist slogans. Trump did condemn White nationalists at the same press conference — “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the White nationalists, because they should be condemned totally,” Trump said -- but then said, “But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”  

The Trump campaign and his supporters routinely claim that this proves Trump condemned White supremacists at the rally, but there’s no evidence that anyone other than white supremacists attended the Unite the Right rally that sparked the protests and ensuing violence, so his claim that when he talked about “very fine” people in the march, he wasn’t talking about White supremacists, is specious.

 

11:04 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Fact check: Did James Madison sign the Declaration of Independence? No, he did not.

From CNN's Homes Lybrand

Madison Cawthorn, a Republican House candidate in North Carolina, claimed in his speech that James Madison, one of America’s founding fathers, signed the Declaration of Independence when he was the same age as Cawthorn.

“James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence,” he said.

Facts First: This is incorrect. Madison did not sign the Declaration of Independence. He was 25 when it was ratified.

12:14 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Fact check: Grenell’s claims Obama-Biden administration launched surveillance on Trump campaign

From CNN's Jenny Hansler

Former acting Director of National Intelligence and US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell claimed the “Obama-Biden administration secretly launched a surveillance operation on the Trump campaign.”

Facts First: There is no evidence that Obama or Biden personally directed the FBI to surveil people in the Trump campaign. The investigation opened by the FBI in the summer of 2016 was probing Russia’s efforts to meddle in the presidential election and whether any Trump campaign associates were involved in that effort.

A report by the Justice Department inspector general found that there was no political conspiracy to undermine Trump's 2016 campaign and that the start of the probe was justified. It did find that there were major errors in how the FBI conducted the probe.

10:48 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Grenell extolls Trump's nationalist "America first" foreign policy

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

RNC
RNC

In one of the final scheduled speeches for Wednesday night’s Republican convention, former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell spoke about President Donald Trump’s foreign policy agenda, extolling his pivot away from globalization and toward nationalism, which he argued put “America first.” 

Grenell previously served as US ambassador to Germany, and earlier this year, the President brought Grenell in for a short stint as the acting Director of National Intelligence.

Grenell said during his speech that the press was shocked when Trump, running as a Republican presidential candidate in 2016, said “(t)hat American foreign policy was failing to make Americans safer.” 

“After the end of the Cold War, Democrats and Republicans in Washington bought into the illusion that the whole world would start to resemble America. And so they started to pursue unlimited globalization,” he added. 

Grenell appeared to embrace the “nationalist” term for Trump’s foreign policy agenda, saying, “The Washington elites want you to think this kind of foreign policy is immoral. And so they call it ‘nationalist.’ That tells you all you need to know. The DC crowd thinks when they call Donald Trump a nationalist, they’re insulting him.” 

"You’re in charge. Not lobbyists. Not special interests. Not warmongers, or China sympathizers, or globalization fanatic," Grenell later said. "With Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the White House, the boss is the American people. President Trump rightly calls his foreign policy 'America First.'"

The former ambassador also praised Trump’s negotiation tactics with foreign leaders, saying, “I’ve watched President Trump charm the Chancellor of Germany, while insisting that Germany pay its NATO obligations."

In his three months as DNI, Grenell oversaw controversial firings of top career officials, a re-structuring of several parts of ODNI, a deeply acrimonious relationship with oversees in Congress and the declassification of documents from the Obama administration that fueled the "Obamagate" conspiracy theory amplified by Trump and his allies.

Grenell used time at the lectern to also discuss his time as DNI and linking it to the Democratic Party, saying, “I saw the Democrats’ entire case for Russian collusion. And what I saw made me sick to my stomach.” 

10:51 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Fact check: McEnany on Trump's position on covering preexisting conditions  

From CNN's Tara Subramaniam 

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

After sharing a personal story about getting a phone call from President Trump following her preventative mastectomy, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “This President stands by Americans with preexisting conditions.”

She added, that “the same way President Trump has supported me, he supports you.” 

Facts First: This needs context. Though the President has repeatedly asserted his support for covering individuals with preexisting conditions, his administration has consistently taken steps to undermine the Affordable Care Act without presenting alternative plans that would offer similar benefits. 

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have repeatedly put forward bills and filed lawsuits that would weaken Obamacare’s protections for people with preexisting conditions.  

Trump is also supporting a Republican lawsuit that is seeking to declare all of Obamacare void. He has not issued a plan to reinstate the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions if the suit succeeds.

In early August, he promised he would issue an executive order to require health insurers to "cover all preexisting conditions for all customers,” but has not yet done so. 

10:35 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Fact check: Sister Dede Byrne's false claim on Democrats and infanticide

From CNN's Caroline Kelly

RNC/Getty Images
RNC/Getty Images

Sister Dede Byrne, a member of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, asserted, “President Trump will stand up against Biden-Harris, who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide.” 

Facts First: This is false. No politician from either party – and, really, no one – supports infanticide, or killing a baby that’s been born, which is illegal.  

Democrats generally favor less restrictive abortion laws and several states allow abortions later in pregnancy

According to their campaign website, Biden and Harris support codifying Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

10:34 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Fact check: Blackburn's claim that Democrats encourage looting is misleading

From CNN's Daniel Dale and Holmes Lybrand

RNC/Getty Images
RNC/Getty Images

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said of Democrats she didn’t identify: “They say we can’t gather in community groups, but encourage protest, riots, and looting in the streets.

Facts First: Blackburn’s claim about riots and looting is an exaggeration. While there are scattered examples  of Democrats making comments that can be seen as supporting riots, the party and Democratic leadership have not “encourage(d)” violent protests. 

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has explicitly condemned such protest, both in a speech in June and in a Wednesday video statement released after Blackburn recorded this speech.  

“[T]here is no place for violence,” Biden said. “No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses — many of them built by people of color who for the first time were beginning to realize their dreams and build wealth for their families.”

Rep. James Clyburn told the Washington Post on June 3 that “peaceful protest is our game. Violence is their game,” adding, “This looting and rioting, that's their game. We cannot allow ourselves to play their game." These are just two examples of the many Democratic leaders who have criticized the riots and looting. 

Blackburn could, like other conservatives, make a subjective argument that Democratic cities and states have not done enough to denounce or discourage protest violence — and it’s possible she could find some Democratic official somewhere in the country who has cheered on a riot. But her suggestion that Democrats as a group have encouraged riots and looting is misleading. 

10:28 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Pence should talk to Black people who are hurting in his speech tonight, CNN's Van Jones says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

As Vice President Mike Pence made the last minute decision to address Wisconsin unrest in his RNC speech tonight, CNN’s Van Jones says he is glad and that his “prayer is that he will try to bring us together.”

“If you're an African American tonight, the despair is so hard to hold off,” he said. “I'm scared for my sons. My big boy just turned 16. He's as tall as me. He's driving now in Los Angeles.”

“We’re terrified our children are going to get killed here. We're terrified what's happening in this country. I don't think when you have people sitting on a hot stove, you should tell them how to holler. I want to see something happen in this country,” he said, adding that “too many of our kids are getting killed.”

Ahead of Pence’s speech, Jones said, that he wants "the vice president to speak to me tonight. You've got your votes, sir. You’ve got your votes locked up. You’ve got your red states locked up. Talk to me and talk to my family tonight, Mr. Vice President. Because we have people out here who are hurting.”

Former Sen. Rick Santorum claimed that a Black man is more likely to be killed in a neighborhood criminal incident instead of a police officer.

“We’re talking about seven or eight unarmed people in the entire country last year who were shot by a police officer,” Santorum said.

“My kid is much more likely to get stopped or hurt by a police officer than anybody else because of the neighborhood I live in,” Jones said in response. “The way that we fix it is that we're honest about the fact that you've got communities being crushed between street violence and police violence and the fact that you have too much lawlessness in police departments, it’s making everything worse.”

“If you want Black votes, talk about that tonight," he asked of Pence. "Talk about these right-wing vigilantes tonight. Don't just pick and choose.”

12:29 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020

Fact check: Lara Trump’s Lincoln quote

From CNN's Alex Rogers

Lara Trump, the President’s daughter-in-law, said, “Abraham Lincoln once famously said, ‘America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.’ ”   

She added that even those words were spoken long ago, “never have they been more relevant.” 

Facts First: While this quote has circulated online, Lincoln did not say it in those words, according to PolitiFact and Snopes 

Christian McWhirter, a historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, told PolitiFact that the quote mangles a speech the 16th President made in 1838.  

In it, Lincoln said, “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”