The Democratic National Convention kicked off with a brief introduction from actress Eva Longoria Baston, who heralded the quadrennial event as an opportunity to “reaffirm our democracy.” Her remarks were followed by a highly produced video of politicians and other cultural icons, such as the soccer player Megan Rapinoe, uttering signature civic phrases, such as, “We the people.”
Biden’s grandkids had a short cameo, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Other participants included healthcare activist Ady Barkan, anti-gun activist Fred Guttenberg and Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father whose speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention called on Americans to reject a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, gaveled in the ceremonies.
By Isaac Stanley-Becker
August 17, 2020 at 8:38 PM EDT
St. Louis couple who waved guns at BLM protesters will participate in GOP convention
The St. Louis couple who became famous after wielding guns at protesters on their private street will be part of the largely digital Republican National Convention next week, Trump advisers said this week.
The couple — Patricia and Mark McCloskey — will appear on behalf of the president during the virtual weeklong event and express their support for him, the officials said.
A spokesman for the convention declined to comment on the appearance.
Other speakers are expected to include former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). The president is expected to speak from the White House, while Vice President Pence will speak from Fort McHenry in Maryland.
The St. Louis couple became well-known this summer after they emerged on the patio of their Versailles-style mansion and waved guns — he a large one, she a smaller one — at a marching, congregating group of Black Lives Matter protesters, who were heading to the mayor’s house down the street.
The couple was later charged, and they were criticized for their aggressive move menacing demonstrators. But their supporters said they were simply protecting their private property and were fearful for their safety.
By Josh Dawsey
August 17, 2020 at 8:36 PM EDT
Trump on Kasich: ‘Loser as a Republican and he’ll be a loser as a Democrat’
President Trump castigated John Kasich, one of the most prominent critics of the president in the Republican Party, ahead of the former Ohio governor’s speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.
“He was a loser as a Republican and he’ll be a loser as a Democrat. Major loser as a Republican. I guess you can quote me on that,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he traveled back to Washington from a pair of campaign events in the Midwest. “John was a loser as a Republican. Never even came close. And as a Democrat he’ll be an even greater loser.”
Kasich ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 against Trump but dropped out in May of that year. Despite Trump’s implication, Kasich has not formally left the Republican Party.
“People don’t like him, people don’t trust him, his health care in Ohio was a disaster,” Trump said on Air Force One. “He hasn’t done too well with Trump. He’s been easy pickings.”
By Seung Min Kim
August 17, 2020 at 8:27 PM EDT
‘I want to see how I can be an influencer’
Tammela Shea is watching for the talking points.
The 57-year-old resident of Jacksonville, Fla., said she’ll follow both conventions to educate herself on each party’s key issues and arguments. She’s an Independent, but she will be voting for the Democrats in November. She thinks President Trump is dangerous, and she wants him out of office.
Shea hopes to persuade her family, friends and neighbors to do the same. So she’ll watch the events carefully, paying attention to the way each side presents its case on the coronavirus, the economy and a slew of other issues.
That way, she hopes, she’ll be armed to talk to undecided voters, or people who are planning not to vote. She’s hoping she might even be able to convince a Trump voter or two to change their mind. “I want to see what the themes are, how can I be an influencer,” she said. “If I can understand what their message I might be able to talk to them.”
Some people, she said, are making their political decisions based on one or two issues. Her husband is like that — he’s staunchly antiabortion, and he won’t be voting in November because he doesn’t feel excited about either candidate.
But maybe, Shea thinks, if she watches the conventions she’ll be able to help some of those people think more broadly about what’s important. “I really want to understand for the next two months what is it that needs to be pounded home. What can be used to really sway somebody,” she said.
But sometimes, she’s not sure if anyone is looking to reconsider. “People are pretty polarized,” she said. “Where I live … it’s a lot of Trump. There are a lot of Trump signs … and I haven’t found very many people who aren’t very much on one side or the other.”
By Amanda Erickson
August 17, 2020 at 8:09 PM EDT
More than five months after pandemic’s arrival in U.S., Trump campaign begins selling Trump 2020 face masks
The president mocked Americans for wearing face masks. He repeatedly refused to wear one in public, finally opting to do so for the first time in July — more than four months after the coronavirus pandemic in the United States began.
But on Monday, as the U.S. death toll from the virus climbed past 167,000, the president’s campaign announced that it has begun selling Trump 2020 face coverings, “providing supporters with new ways to show their support for President Trump’s re-election while taking safety precautions during the coronavirus outbreak.”
“The President urges all patriotic Americans to wear a face cover when they are unable to socially distance,” Trump’s 2020 reelection website states.
“Nothing is more Patriotic than wearing a Trump Face Cover!” the website states. “Let’s Keep America Safe!”
In May, officials told The Washington Post that then-campaign manager Brad Parscale showed the president five prototype masks featuring the Trump-Pence reelection logo, and Trump had approved their distribution for public sale. But the campaign held off on selling them, skeptical of doing so until Trump himself began wearing a mask in public.
Despite wearing a mask on occasion, Trump continues to deliver mixed messages on the steps Americans should take to slow the spread of the virus. Earlier Monday, at an event in Minnesota, he appeared to poke fun at social-distancing regulations limiting the number of attendees at events during the pandemic.
“We’ll call it a ‘peaceful protest.’ That way we can do whatever we want. … You know, that’s what they call it in New York, in these different places, Portland, when they’re rioting all over the streets. They say it was a ‘peaceful protest.’ You could have thousands of people doing it. We’ll do the same thing,” Trump said.
Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.
By Felicia Sonmez
August 17, 2020 at 7:19 PM EDT
‘We need some kind of positive hope’
Kelly Russell has never watched a Democratic National Convention before. In fact, until recently, she wasn’t even that interested in politics.
But this year, she’s tuning in every night. “I’m excited,” she said. “We need some kind of positive hope.”
Russell, 59, said she was a big Barack Obama fan. But it was Trump’s election that really got her engaged. When he was elected, “I knew it would be a train wreck,” she said. And she wanted to do something to help.
The Oregon resident flew to D.C. for the first Women’s March in 2017. “That lit a fire for me,” she said. Since then, she’s connected with grass-roots groups in her area, participating in letter-writing campaigns about issues such as climate change.
She followed the Democratic primary race closely, torn about whom to support. “I changed my mind so many different times,” she said. “But I’ve always liked Joe.” And she was excited when Kamala Harris was announced as Biden’s running mate. Harris appeals because she “doesn’t brook fools. I think she has the integrity and mettle to take on the tribulations that are going to happen.”
Russell said the past four years have left her sad and discouraged; she likened the Trump presidency to an abusive marriage — “I don’t know what’s going to happen next, and none of it’s good.” So she’s looking to the DNC to give her a boost and some hope that everything is going to be okay.
She’ll be watching every night at home with her mother, and she’s particularly looking forward to hearing the Obamas speak.
“I’m so nervous” about November, she said. “We have been so saturated with negativity and hate” over the past four years. “Anything above that will be wonderful. Anything is up from here. Anything they can say to help us out of this mess.”
By Amanda Erickson
August 17, 2020 at 6:53 PM EDT
Trump falsely claims ‘the only way we’re going to lose’ is if the election is ‘rigged’
At an event in Oshkosh, Wis., on Monday afternoon, Trump told supporters that the only way he will lose his reelection bid is if the system is “rigged” against him, the latest suggestion by the president that he may not accept the November results.
A number of polls — including a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday — show Biden holding a double-digit lead over Trump nationally. Biden also holds an advantage in many of the key battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome in November.
Despite those findings, Trump told the crowd in Wisconsin that “the only way” Biden will win is if the vote is “rigged.”
“We have to win the election,” Trump said. “We can’t play games. Get out and vote. Do those beautiful absentee ballots. Or just make sure your vote gets counted. Make sure, because the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged. Remember that. … So we have to be very careful.”
In an interview with Fox News Channel last month, Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the election, falsely claiming that mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic could lead to widespread voter fraud.
“I have to see,” he said in the interview. “Look, you — I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes.’ I’m not going to say ‘no.’ And I didn’t last time, either.”
During the final presidential debate of the 2016 campaign, Trump similarly suggested that he might consider that year’s results illegitimate.
By Felicia Sonmez
August 17, 2020 at 6:09 PM EDT
Bloomberg will spend $60 million to try to grow the Democratic House majority
Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend $60 million to strengthen the Democratic House majority in November, roughly matching the money he invested in flipping control of the House in 2018, according to a Bloomberg adviser familiar with the plans.
The spending will include digital and television ads to defend some of the 20 freshman Democrats he helped win in 2018, along with spending aimed at defeating additional Republican incumbents.
The effort will include new money to several groups, including a revival of Bloomberg’s own political vehicle, Independence USA, and donations to the House Majority PAC, a group closely associated with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said the Bloomberg adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal planning.
By Michael Scherer
August 17, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
Former Trump administration official Miles Taylor endorses Biden, says, ‘Four more years of this are unthinkable’
A former Trump administration official said Monday that he is planning to vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Biden in the November election, blasting the president’s leadership in a video and a Washington Post op-ed.
The announcement by Miles Taylor, who served at the Department of Homeland Security from 2017 to 2019, including as chief of staff, comes hours ahead of the start of the Democratic National Convention.
“The president wanted to exploit the Department of Homeland Security for his own political purposes and to fuel his own agenda. … A lot of the time, the things he wanted to do not only were impossible, but, in many cases, illegal,” Taylor said in the video, which was released by the group Republican Voters Against Trump.
In The Post op-ed, Taylor said that after working in DHS leadership for more than 2½ years under Trump, “I can attest that the country is less secure as a direct result of the president’s actions.”
“It is more than a little ironic that Trump is campaigning for a second term as a law-and-order president,” Taylor said in the piece. “His first term has been dangerously chaotic. Four more years of this are unthinkable.”
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner played down the significance of Taylor’s move in a CNN interview Monday afternoon, arguing that Taylor “wasn’t up to the task” of working in the Trump administration.
“Look, Miles was a nice kid,” Kushner said. “He worked here for a couple of years. But I will say that it makes a lot of sense to me that he’s endorsing Joe Biden. When he was working at the Department of Homeland Security, no wall was built and the border was wide open. That’s why the president changed up the team there.”
Despite Kushner’s claim, the U.S.-Mexico border was not “wide open” at the time, and Taylor discussed Trump’s focus on the wall at numerous points in his op-ed, noting that the president “insisted on a near-total focus on issues that he said were central to his reelection,” including the wall.
By Felicia Sonmez
August 17, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
Mary Trump to headline fundraiser for the Lincoln Project
Mary L. Trump, whose best-selling book calls President Trump, her uncle, “the world’s most dangerous man,” will take part in a fundraiser for the Lincoln Project, a group founded by Republican activists who oppose his reelection.
The fundraiser will be held Aug. 25 at 8 p.m., according to details confirmed by her spokesman, Chris Bastardi.
The event signals a new phase of political involvement for Mary Trump, who has been outspoken in media appearances against the reelection of her uncle. Her book, “Too Much and Never Enough,” has been a No. 1 bestseller. She told The Washington Post recently that she would do “everything in my power” to help elect Joe Biden as president.
Robert Trump, another uncle of Mary Trump, had filed a suit in New York court seeking to block the book’s publication, but a judge ruled that it could go forward and that she could speak about it. Robert Trump, who had called Mary Trump’s action in writing the book “truly a disgrace,” died Saturday.
Mary Trump will be interviewed during the fundraiser by two of the Lincoln Project’s leaders, Reed Galen and Rick Wilson. The Lincoln Project, which is running ads against the president, was co-founded by George Conway, the husband of presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway. The event is open to supporters who have contributed $5,000 to the Lincoln Project, and new supporters must provide at least $1,000. A VIP reception is open to those who raise $10,000.
By Michael Kranish
August 17, 2020 at 5:16 PM EDT
California and N.Y. pursue legal action against Trump’s U.S. Postal Service cuts
Two more states, California and New York, announced plans Monday to pursue legal action against the Trump administration to reverse cost-cutting measures at the U.S. Postal Service that threaten to delay mailed ballots this fall.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats, vowed to bring legal action to prevent Trump from undermining mail service just as millions of Americans are planning to cast their ballots by mail to avoid coronavirus infection at the polls Nov. 3.
“President Trump’s actions to interfere with the operations of the U.S. Postal Service in advance of the presidential election is deeply disturbing,” James said in a statement. “It is an attempt at an authoritarian power grab in an effort to hold on to power, plain and simple.”
Becerra said Trump’s pledge last week to oppose a $25 billion bailout for the Postal Service to stop states from expanding mail voting during the pandemic was an “illegal action” meant to undermine the election. It also threatens delivery of medicines to millions of Americans, he said.
“Despite what President Trump might like to believe, our nation is a democracy,” Becerra said. “California has sued the Trump Admin more than 95 times to protect our people. Protecting their right to vote and our very democracy won’t be any different.”
Becerra and James join at least six other Democratic attorneys general — from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington and Virginia — who began huddling over the weekend to discuss possible litigation to prevent the Trump administration from reducing mail service between now and the election.
Those discussions are among a number of strategies being deployed by federal, state and local officials to protect the integrity of the Nov. 3 election in the wake of Trump’s unprecedented attacks on the Postal Service and widespread reports of mail delays.
By Amy Gardner
August 17, 2020 at 5:04 PM EDT
In convention speech, Michelle Obama to hail Biden as ‘a profoundly decent man guided by faith’
Former first lady Michelle Obama will vouch for Biden as “a profoundly decent man guided by faith,” according to an excerpt of her remarks released ahead of tonight’s Democratic National Convention.
“He was a terrific vice president,” the former first lady will say. “He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic and lead our country. And he listens. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team. And he will govern as someone who’s lived a life that the rest of us can recognize.”
Another of tonight’s speakers, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), is expected to raise the issue of Trump’s response to the recent Black Lives Matter protests in the nation’s capital, including the president’s June 1 photo op outside St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.
“He stood in front of one of our most treasured houses of worship and held a Bible for a photo op,” Bowser is expected to say. “He sent troops in camouflage into our streets. He sent tear gas into the air — federal helicopters, too. I knew if he did this to D.C., he would do it to your city or your town.”
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), meanwhile, will bring up Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his leadership of the country.
“Only a strong body can fight off the virus, and America’s divisions weakened it,” Cuomo will say, according to advance excerpts. “Donald Trump didn’t create the initial division. The division created Trump; he only made it worse.”
And former Ohio governor John Kasich (R) will tell viewers that Biden, “with his experience and his wisdom and his decency, can bring us together to help us find that better way.”
“I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” Kasich is expected to say. “That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times.”
By Felicia Sonmez
August 17, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
McConnell says U.S. Postal Service ‘is going to be just fine’
At an event Monday in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed concerns about the future of the U.S. Postal Service, telling reporters that Congress will make sure the agency will continue functioning in the lead-up to the November election.
“The Postal Service is going to be just fine,” McConnell said outside a hospital in Horse Cave, Ky. He added: “We’re going to make sure that the ability to function going into the election is not adversely affected. I don’t share the concern, the president’s concern.”
McConnell noted that the Trump administration has already indicated it is willing to spend up to $10 billion “just to make sure the post office is on good terms going into the November election.”
Trump, meanwhile, complained in a tweet that the House is scheduled to reconvene next week for a hearing on the U.S. Postal Service.
“Why is Congress scheduled to meet (on Post Office) next Monday, during the Republican Convention, rather than now, while the Dems are having their Convention,” he said in the tweet. “They are always playing games. GET TOUGH REPUBLICANS!!!”
In a follow-up tweet, he added, “SAVE THE POST OFFICE!”
By Donna Cassata and Felicia Sonmez
August 17, 2020 at 3:28 PM EDT
Postal Service unions and Democrats plan nationwide pressure campaign
BALTIMORE — In an event described as part of a new, nationwide pressure campaign, Maryland’s top-ranking Democrats and local-level U.S. Postal Service union officials gathered at a mail-sorting facility here to decry delivery slowdowns as a threat to democracy that calls for average citizens to take action.
“The Postal Service is in great trouble,” said Sherry C. McKnight, president of the Baltimore-based Local 181 chapter of the American Postal Workers Union.
“I’m asking you to stand with us. March with us. Be there with us so that we will be assured that the Postal Service will still be there for years to come,” she said.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said the event was part of a strategy to pressure the Trump administration, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Senate Republicans, as Democrats hope to channel public furor over mail delays into reversing operational changes that has delayed mail service by as much as a week.
“We’re going to turn up the heat,” Van Hollen said. “It’s going to make it really hard to continue down this road.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was a close ally of Van Hollen during his 12 years in the House, has encouraged her Democratic colleagues to stage similar events at Postal Service locations around the country Tuesday.
Maryland’s U.S. senators, Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, were joined Monday by U.S. Reps. Kweisi Mfume and John Sarbanes, Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, and Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, who are all Democrats. Each took a turn vilifying DeJoy as leading a sabotage campaign designed to undermine one of the country’s most well-regarded public institutions.