- The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday night with a number of speakers that went viral for their comments.
- In an opening speech, President Donald Trump joked that the crowd should chant “12 more years” to “really drive” his critics “crazy.”
- Later, Mark and Patricia McCloskey — the St. Louis couple who went viral in June after pointing their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters — gave a controversial speech where they warned that “your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.” Critics have derided the speech as fear-mongering.
- Former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle also trended online after an impassioned speech where she claimed that Democrats want to steal Americans’ liberties and freedoms.
- In what has been widely viewed as a potential presidential bid for 2024, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC.) said the election is more than just about Trump or Biden, arguing “it’s about the promise of America.“
President Trump’s Opening Speech
The first night of the Republican National Convention took off with a heated start Monday as several notable figures gave impassioned remarks. If you missed out on any of the speeches, here’s a breakdown of some of the most talked about moments.
The convention began with an opening speech from President Donald Trump, who was greeted by chants of “Four more years!” from the crowd.
“Now, if you want to really drive them crazy, you say 12 more years,” Trump said in an attempt to get a rise out of his critics.
While some members in the crowd then met Trump with those cheers, criticism of his joke has been strong. That’s likely because this is not the first time Trump has mentioned staying in office past the required, two-term limit.
“One does not joke about 12 more years,” veteran Tim Corcoran said on Twitter. “That’s called a dictatorship. We fought wars with people who refused to be removed from power. This is a slap in the face to all veterans who fought for democracy.”
“We have to be very, very careful, and you have to watch,” Trump then said, shifting focus to universal mail-in voting. “Every one of you, you have to watch. Because bad things happened last time with the spying on our campaign and that goes to Biden and that goes to Obama and we have to be very, very careful… and this time they’re trying to do it with the whole Post Office scam. They’ll blame it on the Post Office. You can see them setting it up.”
The push for universal mail-in voting in some states stems from fears that long lines and lack of social distancing at polls on election day will lead to votes being unable to be cast and spikes in coronavirus cases.
Democrats and some Republicans have noted that mail-in voting has proved to be a very secure form of voting in previous elections and will provide an additional level of safety for voters’ health, especially those who are immunocompromised.
Still, Trump and many other conservatives either worry or have outright claimed universal mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud — even though there’s no evidence to support this, and instead, studies have found fraud to be overwhelmingly rare.
Gun Couple Fear Mongering Criticism
Later in the night, Mark and Patricia McCloskey — the St. Louis couple who went viral in June after pointing their guns at Black Lives Matters protesters — spoke from their home in a speech that many have condemned as fear-mongering.
“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country,” Patricia McCloskey said.
“Whether it’s the defunding of police,” her husband began, “ending cash bails so criminals can be released back out on the streets the same day to riot again, or encouraging anarchy and chaos on our streets, it seems as if the Democrats no longer view the government’s job as protecting honest citizens from criminals, but rather protecting criminals from honest citizens.”
“Not a single person in the out of control mob you saw at our house was charged with a crime. But you know who was? We were. They actually charged us with felonies for daring to defend our home.”
The McCloskeys were charged in July with unlawful use of a weapon for exhibiting a semiautomatic rifle “in an angry or threatening manner.”
The McCloskeys have said that they were afraid and trying to protect their home from protesters who had entered a private street; however, St. Louis circuit court attorney Kimberly Gardner has said that the couple created a dangerous situation involving “peaceful, unarmed protesters.”
“They’re not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence in our communities,” Patricia McCloskey said of Democrats. “They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning. This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness, and low-quality apartments into now-thriving suburban neighborhoods.”
“Make no mistake,” she added. “No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”
The McCloskeys claim that the Democratic party is pushing for the abolition of suburbia is false. Instead, they’re likely referring to an Obama-era rule that forced local jurisdictions to take steps to prove that they are addressing historical patterns of racial segregation in order to qualify for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) financing. HUD revoked that rule in July.
Julian Castro, who was the HUD secretary when that Obama-era rule was finalized, called the McCloskey’s speech “a shameful, deceitful, and calculated ploy to drum up racial resentment and white fear.”
“The federal government does not have authority to dictate zoning decisions of local communities,” he added in defense of the rule. That’s very explicit, that’s settled, and this rule in no way requires communities to make specific decisions about zoning.”
Like Castro, many media outlets — including BuzzFeed News, The New York Times, and Business Insider India — quickly labeled the speech as an attempt to stoke fear within the Republican voter base. In fact, a reporter for BuzzFeed News called it “a brazen, thinly veiled racist attempt to win over a crucial voting bloc for Donald Trump.”
Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former prosecutor and former Fox News personality who is currently an advisor leading fundraising efforts for Trump’s re-election campaign, started her speech by declaring her support for Trump before diving into a emboldened critique of a Biden-Harris administration.
“They want open borders, closed schools, dangerous amnesty, and will selfishly send your jobs back to China while they get rich,” she said. “They will defund, dismantle, and destroy America’s law enforcement. When you are in trouble and need police, don’t count on the Democrats.”
Guilfoyle went on to repeatedly warn of their “socialist agenda” and used Harris’ home state of California as an example, saying that “Democrats turned it into a land of discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets, and blackouts in homes.”
Ironically, like Biden’s campaign, Guilfoyle called the election a battle for “the soul of America.”
“Your choice is clear,” she said. “Do you support the cancel culture? The cosmopolitan elites of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden, who blame America first? Do you think America is to blame? Or, do you believe in American greatness? Believe in yourself? In President Trump? In individual and personal responsibility?”
“They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, leaders and fighters for freedom and liberty and the American Dream, the best is yet to come!” she said in an embellished close.
Guilfoyle’s remarks were easily the most ridiculed of the night. Political commentator Ana Navarro called her unhinged. Steven Colbert mocked her on The Late Show, asking, “Is the loud lady gone?” after playing a clip from her speech.
On social media, some people circulated a video comparing her to Dwight Schrute in a scene from The Office.
A piece by New York Magazine claimed she “screamed at American for six terrifying minutes” and added, “Guilfoyle brought the fear, the fanaticism, and the convention’s fascist timbre to the next level.”
However, many Trump supporters agreed with her sentiments. For example, Fox News Host Sean Hannity described her speech as “impassioned.”
Sen. Tim Scott
Arguably the most notable speech of the night came at the end when Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC.), the only Black Republican in the Senate, took the stage.
“This isn’t how I pictured tonight, but our country is experiencing something none of us envisioned,” he said. “From a global pandemic, to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, 2020 has tested our nation in ways we haven’t seen for decades. But regardless of the challenges presented to us, every four years, Americans come together to vote.”
“To share stories of what makes our nation strong, and the lessons we have learned that can strengthen it further for our children and grandchildren. Because while this election is between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, it is not solely about Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It’s about the promise of America. It’s about you and me, our challenges and heartbreaks, hopes and dreams. It’s about how we respond when tackling critical issues like police reform.”
Scott went on to ask if we want to be a country that “breeds success” or one that “cancels everything.”
Even though Scott still criticized Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the overall tone of his speech, to many, seemed much more hopeful and more personal than those that came before it.
Afterward, many commentators declared Scott’s speech as his bid for a 2024 presidential run.
Alongside that, Scott’s speech is largely being interpreted as an appeal to wavering Republicans who may be less enthusiastic about or currently turned off by the idea of voting for Trump.
Likewise, many commentators now speculate a potential 2024 run from United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley after she made a speech where, among other things, she said, “In much of the Democratic Party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country. This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Fox News)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Restrictive Elections Bill Into Law
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a sweeping elections bill into law Thursday that critics say will significantly limit voting access.
- Among other measures, the bill will impose new restrictions on ballot drop boxes, add barriers to mail-in voting, and limit who can hand out materials to voters at polling locations — a provision many believe will ban the distribution of food and water.
- While Republicans claim the bill is necessary to provide election security and transparency, Democrats and voting rights advocates argue that it will suppress voters, particularly voters of color.
- DeSantis also received widespread backlash from critics and the media for taking the unprecedented step of blocking all journalists from attending the signing ceremony for the law, which was broadcasted exclusively on Fox News.
Newest Voting Restrictions Law
Florida became the latest Republican-led state to impose new voting restrictions Thursday when Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a broad elections bill into law.
The new law contains many provisions similar to the dozens of pieces of legislation aimed at restricting voting access that have been proposed and approved in the months following the 2020 election.
Among other measures, the Florida law will:
- Limit the use of drop boxes and impose new restrictions on where they can be placed.
- Add more identification requirements for requesting absentee ballots.
- Require voters to request absentee ballots for each election, rather than getting them automatically through a voting list.
- Limit who can collect and drop off ballots.
- Give more power to partisan observers during the ballot-counting process.
- Expand a current rule that bans outside groups from engaging in actions that could influence voting within a 150-foot radius of a polling place, which voting rights experts say could be used to prohibit people from giving out food and water to voters waiting in line to vote.
On top of that, critics have also said the new law could result in longer lines for both early in-person and Election Day voting. Democrats and voting rights advocates have also argued that this is just a transparent attempt to suppress voters, and specifically voters of color.
Republicans, meanwhile, have claimed the new law is necessary to make elections more secure — claims that were reiterated by DeSantis during the signing ceremony.
“Me signing this bill says, ‘Florida, your vote counts,’” he said. “Your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency, and this is a great place for democracy.”
DeSantis Blocks Media From Bill Signing
In addition to backlash against the new law itself, many condemned DeSantis for speaking about transparency but then completely shutting the media out of the signing, which was broadcasted exclusively on Fox News.
Numerous individual reporters and outlets were blocked from accessing the event, including Jay O’Brien, a reporter for the local CBS affiliate, who tweeted that the station was supposed to film pool footage of the event to feed to affiliates nationwide.
“This isn’t a story about the press being locked out of an event,” O’Brien later added. “It’s about Floridians who had their eyes and ears in that room cut off. @GovRonDeSantis signed a law today that will impact ALL Floridians. And only some viewers were allowed to see it. That’s not normal.”
That disbelief was also echoed by other outlets, like The New York Times, which explained that “Giving exclusive access to a cable news network was unusual, if not unprecedented.”
The Flordia law, which was immediately challenged by civil rights groups in federal court, comes just months after Georgia passed a similar, widely controverisal bill.
Meanwhile in Texas, Republican leaders are ignoring the pleas of major corporations like Dell, Microsoft, and American Airlines by moving forward with legislation that would make the state one of the toughest to vote in throughout the entire country. That proposal, which has already been passed by the state Senate, could see a full state House vote as early as next week.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CBS News)
Biden Administration To Reunite Four Migrant Families Separated Under Trump
- Four migrant families split up under former President Trump’s child separation policy will be reunited this week, Biden administration officials said Sunday.
- More than 5,500 children were separated from their parents from 2017 to 2018. Around 1,000 families remained separated when Trump left office and over half had not been contacted by the administration.
- Shortly after taking office in January, President Biden formed the Family Reunification Task Force, which has located at least 200 more parents. The families that will be reunited later this week mark the first that the task force has connected.
- While immigration advocates applauded the move, they also criticized Biden’s team for not moving faster or pouring adequate resources into reunification efforts.
Four Migrant Families To Reunite
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Sunday that four migrant parents who were separated from their children and deported alone under former President Donald Trump’s controversial family separation policy will be allowed to return to the U.S. and reunite with their kids.
The “zero tolerance” policy, one of Trump’s most notorious actions on immigration, was formally enacted in April 2018 and ended just months later in June after a federal judge forced the administration to stop.
It was later revealed that the administration had actually been regularly separating families throughout much of 2017. According to government documents, over 5,500 children were separated from their parents in 2017 and 2018.
Most of those families were later reunited, but at least 1,000 parents remained separated because a parent had been deported. More than half of those parents — an estimated 645 — still had not been contacted by the time Trump left office.
President Joe Biden has said reuniting families would be a top priority as he begins undoing the complex network of immigration policies set by Trump. This latest move marks the first families that will be reunited through the Family Reunification Task Force, which Biden created shortly after taking office in January.
So far, that task force has managed to find around 200 of the 645 remaining parents and recently reported that it’s looking into 5,600 files from the first few months of the Trump administration that may have evidence of even more separations.
Immigration Advocates Call for More
While immigration advocates and lawyers applauded the move, they also criticized the slow rate of reunification. Some also accused the Biden administration of taking credit for the reunions despite doing very little to facilitate them.
“Despite what Secretary Mayorkas would have the public believe, DHS has done nothing to facilitate the return and reunification of these parents this week, other than to agree to allow them in,” said Carol Anne Donohoe, a managing attorney for the reunification project run by immigrant advocacy organization Al Otro Lado.
“The only reason these mothers will be standing at the port of entry is because Al Otro Lado negotiated their travel visas with the Mexican government, paid for their airline tickets and arranged for reunification,” she added.
Many advocacy groups have also slammed the Biden administration for not doing enough to plan what happens next for these families. Some have urged them to provide permanent legal status to parents so they cannot be separated from their children again, as well as support services and potential financial compensation.
The parents arriving this week will be allowed to temporarily stay in the country under what’s called humanitarian parole, their long-term immigration status and what happens from here is largely up in the air.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (NBC News)
Matt Gaetz’s “Wingman” Reportedly Said the Congressman Paid for Sex With a Minor
- The Daily Beast reported Thursday that it had obtained a letter written by Joel Greenberg, an accused sex trafficker and a close associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.), where he admitted that he and the congressman paid for sex with numerous young women, including a 17-year-old girl.
- In the letter, Greenberg allegedly claimed that he and Gaetz believed the girl was 19 but ended contact in September 2017 after realizing she was a minor. Once she turned 18, he said both men re-established contact.
- The Daily Beast also obtained alleged screenshots of messages where Greenberg offered to pay Roger Stone to help him secure a pardon from then-President Trump. Greenberg admitted he and Gaetz paid for sex with a minor in those messages as well.
- In a statement, Stone confirmed that he had spoken to Greenberg about a possible pardon and said he had requested Greenberg’s letter but denied receiving compensation. Gaetz, who is currently under investigation for possible violations of sex trafficking laws, denied ever paying for sex or having sex with a minor.
Alleged Greenberg Letters
Joel Greenberg, an accused sex trafficker and a central figure in the ongoing federal investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.), admitted that both men paid for sex with multiple young women and a 17-year-old girl, according to a letter obtained by The Daily Beast Thursday.
Greenberg was indicted last summer on 33 counts, including sex trafficking a minor. The former Florida politician is an ally of Gaetz, who is currently the subject of a Justice Department investigation that is allegedly part of a broader probe into Greenberg.
The letter in question was reportedly written after Greenberg asked Roger Stone, a close associate of former President Donald Trump, to help him obtain a pardon from the then-president before he left office.
According to The Daily Beast, Greenberg had written multiple drafts of the letter at Stone’s request, including “two typed versions and an earlier handwritten one,” seen by the outlet. In at least one of the letters, Greenberg reportedly said both he and Gaetz had repeated interactions with a girl who was 17-years-old.
“On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” he allegedly wrote of the girl.
“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”
In the drafts, Greenberg purportedly stated that “all of the girls were in college or post college,” and he claimed that he and Gaetz had believed the minor was 19 at the time of their sexual relationships with her.
He said he learned she was underage in September of 2017 and contacted Gaetz, who he reportedly wrote was “equally shocked and disturbed by this revelation.” After that Greenberg said, “there was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday.”
However, after she was legal, Greenberg contacted her again, according to The Daily Beast, which previously reported Gaetz had sent Greenberg $900 on Venmo asking him to “hit up” the same girl five months after she turned 18.
Messages Between Greenberg and Stone
The outlet also obtained a series of private messages between Greenberg and Stone starting in late 2020 that had been sent over the encrypted app Singal. Greenberg appears to have taken screenshots of a number of conversations, which are automatically deleted after a set period of time.
“If I get you $250k in Bitcoin would that help or is this not a financial matter,” Greenberg wrote to Stone in one of the screenshots published in the exposé.
“I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident,” Stone appears to have responded in a message The Daily Beast said was sent on Jan. 13. Just weeks before, Trump pardoned Stone himself for his 2019 conviction.
The images also appear to show Greenberg describing his activities with Gaetz, who he repeatedly refers to as “MG” or “Matt.” In one exchange, Greenberg says that he has not spoken to Gaetz and implored Stone to help him reach out to the congressman.
“He absolutely has to know that the sex charge they hit me with would be what they would hit him with,” he wrote, per the screenshot.
The Daily Beast additionally detailed several other messages between the two men that it did not provide screenshots of. In one alleged interaction, the outlet claims that Greenberg said that federal law enforcement officials were pressuring him to cooperate with their investigation and that he fired his lawyers for urging him to do the same.
“My lawyers that I fired, know the whole story about MG’s involvement,” he purportedly wrote. “They know he paid me to pay the girls and that he and I both had sex with the girl who was underage. So naturally they think that is my golden ticket.”
However, according to the outlet, Stone said several times that Gaetz refused his request to help with the matter. Greenberg did not ultimately receive the pardon, though The Daily Beast stated that White House officials confirmed his name had made it on a list of possible candidates, a detail backed up messages seen by the outlet.
“What I don’t understand is why [Gaetz] would not help me at all and actually told me not to help you which I tried to do anyway. In the end it would not have mattered,” Stone purportedly wrote after Trump had announced his final pardons.
Official Responses to Latest Allegations
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Stone confirmed that Greenberg had tried to hire him to help get a pardon, but denied that he asked for or received payment.
“I made no formal or informal effort in regard to a pardon for Mr. Greenberg,” Stone said. “I recall requesting a document explaining his prosecution The [sic] details of which I was unfamiliar with.”
“I never requested or received a penny from Mr. Greenberg,” he continued. “I recall him offering to retain me and I declined.”
Stone also acknowledged that there may be “copies of correspondence” between him and Greenberg, but he questioned whether they were in full context.
“Sounds to me like you have been presented some kind of cut and paste record,” he said, warning the outlet to “be very careful” and threatening legal action if it published “anything that is false or defamatory.”
Greenberg’s lawyer declined to comment on the story. Gaetz’s office did not respond to the request to comment, but Logan Circle Group, an outside PR firm hired by the Congressman, denied the accusations in a statement.
“Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex nor has he had sex with a 17 year old as an adult,” the firm said. “We are now one month after your outlet and others first reported such lies, and no one has gone on record to directly accuse him of either.”