By Danny R. Johnson – Political News Editor
WASHINGTON, DC — President Donald Trump spent 50 minutes complaining about a host of familiar themes to 300 of his biggest fans on the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Charlotte, NC. Trump welcomed his formal re-nomination at the RNC, much like he has greeted crowds across the country, press in the briefing room at the White House, and workers on factory floors in the months after his rallies were shut down: with a lengthy, rambling, grievance-filled speech.
Despite promising an “optimistic” event, Trump had no sooner taken to the podium before he complained about mail-in voting in an evidence-free attack on the democratic method that he returned to several times throughout the more than 50-minute address.
“The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged the election,” Trump lied at one point during his address. “We’re going to win this election.”
Speaking in Charlotte to more than 300 delegates, the remnants of the long-planned Republican National Convention, after formally being re-nominated by a roll call vote, Trump ping-ponged between ticking off what he saw as some of his administration’s most significant accomplishments (tax and regulation cuts) with lengthy diatribes denigrating Democrats that were greeted enthusiastically by the crowd of loyal followers.
Just as Trump was speaking New York State Attorney General Letitia James had sought new material as part of a probe of the Trump Organization, Reuters reported. The filing said the attorney general is investigating Trump’s use of “Statements of Financial Condition”—summaries of his assets and debts that are sent to lenders—and that the Trump Organization has been withholding information. The court papers ask a judge to compel the president’s son Eric Trump to submit to an interview as part of the investigation centering on the business Trump used as a platform to launch his presidential candidacy in 2015. At issue, in part, were allegations of assets being inflated to secure loans, according to Reuters.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned as president of Liberty University on Monday amid several highly publicized personal scandals, according to multiple news reports. Falwell Jr., an ardent supporter of Trump, was put on indefinite leave earlier this month after a photo of him with his pants unzipped surfaced. Falwell has apologized for the picture, which he said was taken at a costume party during a family vacation. Falwell Jr.’s resignation from the evangelical university comes just hours Reuters published a bombshell interview with a former pool boy who alleged he had a seven-year sexual relationship with the 58-year-old and his wife. In the interview, Giancarlo Granda said his relationship with the couple began after they met in March 2012, when he was a 20-year-old employee at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel and that throughout the association, which ended in 2018, he would have sex with Falwell’s wife, Becki Tilley Falwell, in front of the evangelical leader. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship, and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said, noting that the liaisons took place “multiple times per year.”
And there is more salacious Trump news to report. Trump’s sister, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, can be heard on newly released audio speaking “too freely,” in her words, about her brother’s lack of principles and general cruelty. The recordings were made over two years by Mary Trump, the president’s niece and author of “Too Much and Never Enough,” and provided to The Washington Post.
“He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this,” Barry says on the tape, apparently referring to his policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God. I am talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”
She added, “It’s the phoniness of it all. It is the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel.” The biggest bombshell of all was the news that both Kellyanne Conway and her husband George Conway both announced they were stepping down from their jobs over the weekend after their 15-year-old daughter Claudia Conway claimed on social media that she was seeking “emancipation” from her parents.
CBS This Morning co-anchor Tony Dokoupil told Meadows that the “cynical reading” of the situation would be that Kellyanne Conway is trying to “jump ship now” because she saw the Trump campaign ship “sinking.”
And if that was not enough for Trump to swallow, his close confidante Steve Bannon was arrested last week off the coast of Connecticut aboard a mega-yacht owned by a business associate and Chinese billionaire fugitive Guo Wengui. He was indicted in New York for allegedly using the viral “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign to siphon off money for personal expenses. The notoriously anti-China populist, who has also railed against the “global elites,” was arrested by inspectors from the U.S. Postal Service while cruising Long Island Sound in the $28 million vessel Lady May. Just the day before his arrest, Bannon appeared to host a podcast episode from the yacht and even interviewed We Build the Wall’s founder Brian Kolfage to promote the fundraiser.
Instead of making the positive case for his re-election (which is nearly impossible), Trump’s natural move is to try and disqualify Joe Biden. He telegraphed this via a speech he gave last week in Pennsylvania: “If you want a vision of your life under a Biden presidency,” Trump said, “imagine the smoldering ruins of Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland and the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago–and imagine the mayhem coming to your town and every single town in America.” Sure, there will be some “untold stories” painting Trump in a positive light, fluffy bio pieces, and beautiful speeches from folks like Tim Scott and Nikki Haley, not to mention his wife and all four adult children. And there will be the trappings of power, via the appropriation of presidential symbols as props (see the White House Rose Garden). Maybe they will even throw in some fireworks. But American Carnage 2.0 will be the overarching theme of Trump’s RNC.
Never mind the fact that all of this “violent anarchy” happened on Trump’s watch, going negative is his only real play—which is to say that this week is going to get nasty. Time to buckle up.