Live RNC coverage: Trump to make multiple appearances during first day of the Republican National Convention

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Trump to appear at convention with rescued hostages

President Donald Trump is expected to make another appearance at the Republican National Convention on Monday — this time joined by Americans held abroad and those detained by foreign governments released during his time in office.

Trump is expected to appear with Michael White, freed by Iran in June, and Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in Turkey and released in 2018 and four others. Trump has repeatedly touted his efforts to get Americans held overseas freed.

The appearance was not included on the original RNC schedule and underlines the fact that Trump is likely to appear unexpectedly several times during the convention, as he did earlier in the day in Charlotte, N.C. 

David Jackson and John Fritze 

‘Can’t be trusted’: Michael Cohen appears in ad to run during RNC attacking president

Michael Cohen, who served as Trump’s loyal personal attorney and fixer, will appear in a series of Democratic group American Bridge ads with a message to voters about Trump: they “shouldn’t believe a word he utters.” 

“For more than a decade, I was President Trump’s right-hand man, fixer and confidant. I was complicit in helping conceal the real Donald Trump. In essence, I was part of creating an illusion,” Cohen says. “Later this week, he’s going to stand up at the White House and blatantly lie to you.”

Cohen continues, “I’m here to tell you he can’t be trusted — and you shouldn’t believe a word he utters. So, when you watch the President this week, remember this: If he says something is huge, it’s probably small. If he says something will work, it probably won’t. And if he says he cares about you and your family, he certainly does not.”

The series of ads will run during the Republican National Convention this week, starting digitally on Monday and appearing on TV starting Wednesday, according to CNN. 

Cohen comes as the latest anti-Trump Republican to speak out just before the start of the RNC. Former Republican Party chairman Michael Steele joined the Lincoln Project just hours ago, and 27 former GOP lawmakers publicly endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden Monday morning.

Matt Wolking, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, told USA TODAY in response, “If you believe anything Michael Cohen says, I have a basement in Delaware to sell you.”

Cohen, a self-described Trump fixer, pleaded guilty to coordinating payoffs to buy the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The women said they had sexual affairs with Trump before he was elected. Cohen insisted he acted at the direction of Trump, who has denied the affairs.

Savannah Behrmann

Who is Charlie Kirk? 

One of the first speakers of tonight’s RNC event is expected to be Charlie Kirk, the 26-year-old conservative darling who is a Trump family confidant and the head of Turning Point USA, which is devoted to attracting and energizing young voters.

Kirk bills himself as “Twitter’s 5th most engaged personality” and a vessel for the GOP to reach coveted college-age voters.  

“I visit college campuses so you don’t have to,” Kirk told an approving crowd at the Conservative Political Action’s 2020 conference. “You’re welcome.”

By the time the 2016 election rolled around, Turning Point was a well-funded outfit and Kirk had become increasingly influential. He met Donald Trump Jr. at the GOP convention that year and glued himself to the president’s eldest son. 

“I traveled the country for about 70 days straight carrying Donald Trump Jr.’s bags and getting his Diet Cokes,” Kirk told conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh in 2019. “Helping book flights and taking pictures and coordinating media, essentially being the youth director of the campaign and also being Don Jr.’s body man.”

Now, Kirk enjoys influence and access at the highest levels of the White House, said Andrew Surabian, a Republican strategist with close ties to the Trump campaign.

Deirdre Shesgreen

RNC faces news distractions on Day 1

The Republicans are eager for news coverage of their convention starting Monday –but they’re getting a lot of competition from news breaking all over the country. 

  • News item: Police in Kenosha, Wisc., shot an unarmed Black man; demonstrations against police brutality break out in several cities.
  • News item: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is grilled by House Democrats who say his cost-cutting measures are designed to undercut mail-in voting; DeJoy denied it.
  • News item: Joe Biden’s campaign released a list of more than a dozen Republicans who have endorsed their candidate.
  • And, finally: News that Jerry Falwell, Jr. – a major Trump ally – may depart the presidency of Liberty University amid a sex scandal.

The opening night of the GOP convention starts at 8:30 p.m. EST. Maybe nothing more will happen before then.

David Jackson

Poll: Trump trailing Biden in North Carolina

A new poll released just hours after the Republican National Convention opened Monday in Charlotte shows President Donald Trump losing to Democratic challenger Joe Biden in North Carolina.

Trump trails the former vice president by three points (46% to 49%) in the Tar Heel State and by 10 points nationally (42% to 52%), according to the Morning Consult/Politico poll.

Trump carried North Carolina in 2016, beating Democrat Hillary Clinton by four points (50% to 46%). North Carolina is expected to be a pivotal swing state again this year.

The poll of 1,992 registered voters was conducted Aug. 21-23 and has a two-point margin of error.

Michael Collins

Trump: Unlike Biden, ‘I showed up’

President Donald Trump followed his unscheduled stop at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte on Monday by visiting a company in the battleground state that helps distribute surplus farm food to families in need.   

The president toured a warehouse at the Flavor First Growers and Packers in Mills River, which boxes surplus food and distributes it through the Farmers to Families Food Boxes program. It was the latest indication that Trump intends to stay highly visible during the four-day convention, much of which is taking place virtually.

“This really is an incredible program,” Trump said, standing in front of stacks of boxes filled peppers, eggplant, squash and other fruits and vegetables.

Later, Trump announced that his administration is authorizing another $1 billion for the program. Many families found themselves in need of groceries when the coronavirus pandemic hit, he said.

Though not an official campaign stop, the event sometimes had the feel of a political rally, with the crowd chanting “four more years!” Trump encouraged supporters to get out and vote in November, calling it “the most important election this country has ever had.”

Trump also got in a dig at Democratic Joe Biden for not traveling to Wisconsin during the Democratic National Convention. Milwaukee was scheduled to host the gathering, but Democrats switched to a virtual gathering as a result of COVID.

“Joe Biden was supposed to be in Wisconsin, but he never showed up,” Trump said. “I showed up.”

– Michael Collins

Trump formally accepts nomination 

President Donald Trump was formally nominated for a second term at the Republican National Convention on Monday, marking an official start to this year’s presidential race and the first major moment of the party’s meeting this week.

Trump made a surprise visit to the convention shortly after crossing the threshold of delegates needed for the nod. He started off his remarks with an attack on Democrats, opponent Joe Biden and criticism of mail-in ballots – an indication his message at the party’s convention will mirror what he has been eager to convey in the run up to it.     

More: Trump formally nominated for second term at Republican National Convention

“This is the most important election in the history of our country,” Trump said during nearly an hour of remarks at the Charlotte Convention Center. “This is the biggest.”

Trump was set to hold several campaign events in North Carolina before returning to Washington in the evening. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., was among several speakers expected during the prime time hours. Others include Donald Trump Jr., Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. 

– John Fritze

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