- 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)
Former Aide Accuses New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of Sexual Harassment
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was accused of sexual harassment by his former aide Lindsey Boylan in an essay she published on Medium Wednesday.
- Boylan claimed she was subjected to inappropriate remarks and behavior from the governor for years, including an instance in 2018 where he allegedly kissed her without her consent after a meeting.
- Boylan said Cuomo created an administration, “where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.”
- Cuomo denied the allegations, but Boylan’s essay comes as numerous current and former top officials have recently accused the governor of engaging in intimidation and creating a hostile work environment.
Lindsey Boylan Details Allegations Against Cuomo
A former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) published an essay Wednesday accusing him of sexual harassment, expanding on allegations she made in December. The aide, Lindsey Boylan, first made the accusations in a Twitter thread about women being harassed in the workplace.
“Yes, @NYGovCuomo sexually harassed me for years,” she wrote. “Many saw it, and watched.”
At the time, Boylan did not provide any more details to the media, and Cuomo denied the allegations.
“I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has,” he said at a press conference after the accusations surfaced. “But it’s just not true.”
In her essay, published on Medium, Boylan accused Cuomo of subjecting her to several years of deeply uncomfortable situations, including an instance after a meeting in 2018 when he kissed her on the lips without her consent.
She claimed that Cuomo “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs” and that over the years, “His inappropriate gestures became more frequent.”
These alleged actions also included one time in October 2017, where she said he sat across from her on a jet and said “Let’s play strip poker.” Boylan outlined a number of other inappropriate actions and comments she claimed the governor made. She even embedded screenshots from emails and text messages that she said supported her story. However, she said her fears got worse after the kiss in 2018, and that she “came to work nauseous every day” until she eventually resigned in September of that year.
Notably, Boyland additionally stated that Cuomo’s “pervasive harassment” extended to other women as well, and that he would make “unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues” and “ridiculed” them about their romantic relationships.
This kind of behavior, she said, was part of the culture Cuomo created in his administration, “where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.”
“He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences,” she said, stating that after she first tweeted the accusation in December, two other women reached out to her but were too afraid to speak.
One allegedly told Boylan she lived in fear of what would happen if she rejected Cuomo’s advances, and the other said he had instructed her to warn people who upset him that they risk losing their jobs.
Cuomo’s press secretary Caitlin Girouard responded to the allegations in a statement Wednesday by reiterating the governor’s past remarks.
“As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” she told reporters.
Girouard also disputed Boylan’s story about the jet ride, sharing a statement from four current and former administration officials who were on one or more of the four flights in October 2017 that Boylan had taken with Cuomo.
“We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen,” the four officials said.
Boylan is by no means alone in some of her specific accusations. Cuomo’s last few weeks have been mired in scandal after a top aide revealed his administration had withheld nursing home data on COVID-related deaths. In the aftermath of the revelations and Cuomo’s handling of it, numerous top officials have accused the governor of intimidation, bullying, and fostering a toxic workplace.
Many of those accusations surfaced after New York Assemblyman Ron Kim (D), who has been an outspoken critic of Cuomo, claimed that the governor threatened to “destroy” him on a call last week.
Cuomo said Kim was lying about the conversation, but shortly after, many current and former aides and other insiders gave The New York Times similar accounts of aggressive behavior and intimidation.
Also on Wednesday, Karen Hinton, another ex-Cuomo staffer, published an op-ed in the New York Daily News that echoed many of Boylan’s claims about a toxic work environment for women.
That claim also appeared to be supported up by three people who worked in the governor’s office at the same time as Boylan. They told The Times it was true that Cuomo would make inappropriate remarks and comment on people’s appearances.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CBS News)
Former Capitol Security Officials Blame Intelligence Failures for Insurrection
- During the Senate’s first hearing into security failures that lead to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, top officials provided new insights but shirked responsibility.
- Many blamed the FBI for not gathering more information or properly communicating what they did know, arguing that the breakdown was a result of the intelligence community not taking domestic extremism seriously.
- Police leaders noted that a bulletin from an FBI field office warning of a “war” at the Capitol, issued a day before the insurrection, was not properly flagged or delivered.
- However, others noted that the Capitol Police had in fact issued an internal alert three days before warning of similar threats.
Security Officials Shirk Responsibility
Former top officials responsible for security at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection testified before the Senate for the first time Tuesday.
While the testimonies represented the most detailed accounts of the security failures leading up to and during attacks, they also raised questions about how those failures came out.
The top officials did acknowledge some of their own mistakes and admitted they were unprepared for such an event. Still, they largely deflected responsibility for the breakdown in communication and instead blamed intelligence officials, their subordinates, and even each other at times.
All of the officials testified that the FBI and the intelligence community had failed to detect information about the intentions of the pro-Trump insurrectionists and properly relay what they did know before the attack.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee depicted the collapse in communication as a broader failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to take domestic extremism as seriously as foreign threats.
Specifically, both officials mentioned this in the context of a bulletin issued a day before the insurrection by the FBI’s office in Norfolk, Virginia. That bulletin warned of a “war” at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
In his testimony, Sund — who resigned the day after the insurrection — disclosed for the first time that the alter had in fact been sent to the Capitol Police through the Joint Terrorism Task Force but said it was never forwarded to him or either of the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms.
Contee also said the D.C. police department received the warning, but it was a nondescript email and not labeled as a priority alert that would demand immediate attention.
“I would certainly think that something as violent as an insurrection at the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something,” he told the Senators.
However, lawmakers pointed out that the Capitol Police did have warnings about the attack in the form of their own internal intelligence report issued three days before the planned pro-Trump rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol.
In that 12-page memo, some of which was obtained by The Washington Post, the Capitol Police intelligence unit warned that “Congress itself” could be targeted by Trump supporters who believed the electoral college certification was “the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election.”
The memo also noted the large expected crowds, the fact that organizers had urged Trump supporters to bring guns and combat gear, and that “President Trump himself” had been promoting the chaos.
Two people familiar with the memo told The Post that the report had been relayed to all Capitol Police command staff, though in their testimonies Tuesday, the former security officials said the intel they had did not have enough specifics about the potential for an attack.
Some, however, appear to doubt the series of events detailed by Sund. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed filed a lawsuit against the Capitol Police for records related to the insurrection. The agency has been criticized for not providing enough information to the media, and contradictory testimonies delivered to Senators likely raised more red flags.
Lawmakers Emphasize Need for Better Precautions
The argument that there was so much vague, threatening online chatter making it hard to distinguish what was legitimate is something that many law enforcement officials have used to explain their failure to prepare for the attacks.
In fact, that was the exact same response the FBI gave reporters Tuesday after Sund and Contee blamed them for not giving an explicit or strong enough warning. Lawmakers hope that the many hearings and ongoing investigations into the matter will result in tangible policy changes to prevent similar attacks from happening again.
While it is currently unclear what that will look like, many leaders have emphasized the need for a broad rethinking of how the U.S. addresses domestic extremist threats at every level.
“There’s no question in my mind that there was a failure to take this threat more seriously, despite widespread social media content and public reporting that indicated violence was extremely likely,” Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mi.) told reporters Tuesday.
“The federal government must start taking these online threats seriously to ensure they don’t cross into the real-world violence.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)
Illinois Rep. Files Bill To Ban Video Games Like “Grand Theft Auto” Amid Carjacking Spikes
- Illinois State Rep. Marcus Evans (D) has proposed a bill that would crack down on certain video games in hopes of reducing a dramatic uptick in Chicago carjackings.
- Illinois law currently bans people from selling “violent video games” to minors; however, Evans’ bill seeks to ban the sale of “violent video games” to anyone in the state.
- Among other language, Evans is seeking to expand the state definition of “serious physical harm” related to video games so that it includes “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins.”
- A number of gamers have criticized the bill, calling it a misguided approach for reducing violence in the state.
“Grand Theft Auto” Bill
Illinois State Representative Marcus Evans (D) has filed a bill that, if passed, would ban the sale of violent video games to anyone in the state.
While the bill does address the frequent debate around whether gun violence in video games inspires real-world violence, Evans is actually filing the bill primarily in response to a series of carjackings in Chicago. In fact, the bill was largely conceived with the game “Grand Theft Auto” in mind.
“‘Grand Theft Auto’ and other violent video games are getting in the minds of our young people and perpetuating the normalcy of carjacking,” Evans said. “Carjacking is not normal and carjacking must stop.”
According to the Chicago-Sun Times, Chicago saw 1,400 carjackings in 2020 — double that of what it saw in 2019. That’s now continued into this year, with 241 carjackings already reported in the city as of Monday. Earlier this week, police charged two boys, ages 13 and 14, with stealing a man’s car after holding him at gunpoint.
The latest addition to the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise was released in 2013. Notably, Chicago carjacking rates in 2013, 2014, and 2015 were the lowest of the previous decade.
The bill Evans has filed would amend a current Illinois law that restricts the sale of “violent video games” to minors.
As part of his amendment to include all age groups, Evans wants to update the definition of “violent video game” under state law to include games that “perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.”
Evans also wants to update the definition of “serious physical harm” related to video games so that it would include “psychological harm and child abuse, sexual abuse, animal abuse, domestic violence, violence against women, or motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins.”
Gamers Say Evans’ Argument Is Misplaced
Among gamers, Evans’ bill has reignited conversations around video games and violence.
“Carjackings have happened before games and Marcus Evans thinks today that it’s the fault of video games like GTA?” one person tweeted. “I never had any need for committing crimes playing games my whole life.”