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The Republican convention will be The Trump Show from start to finish

This week's Republican National Conventionwill be The Trump Show from start to finish, aiming for ratings-juicing stunts, attention-grabbing speeches from MAGA stars, and executive power as performance art, people familiar with the plans tell Axios.

What to expect: "Think of each night like an episode," says one source. "And what would an episode be without an appearance from the star?"


Behind the scenes: President Trump made clear to aides that he wanted a grand, raucous convention — to the extent such things are achievable during a pandemic. He wanted a live audience, which he'll now get on the White House's South Lawn.

  • He didn't like the Zoom-call feel of the Democratic convention, and he thought many of the speeches went on too long, people close to him said.

Sources close to the convention said Team Trump is trying to leverage all its advantages — the powers of the presidency and the setting of the White House.

  • Traditionally, nominees only speak on the last night of the convention. Trump, however, will appear every night.
  • The sources say they're making sure that the White House Counsel's Office clears all activities.

Trump will shatter tradition — and, many say, propriety — by delivering his acceptance speech from a grand stage on the South Lawn.

  • Nearby on Constitution Avenue, Team Trump has decked out the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, which will be the site of many of the speeches.
  • It's a Trumpian scene, I'm told: You can't walk 3 feet without running into an American flag. There's a red carpet and columns with gilded accents.

You'll hear from the McCloskeys — the St. Louis couple who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters — and from Nick Sandmann, the Covington teen who has sued a host of media outlets and settled with CNN and The Washington Post. All of Trump's adult children, including Tiffany, will also speak.

  • Unlike the other Trump children, Tiffany is very private and hasn't made a public speech since the 2016 Republican National Convention.
  • The first lady will also speak from the newly renovated Rose Garden.
  • And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be addressing the RNC from "an undisclosed location" in Jerusalem, per a source familiar with his plans.

Sources are especially excited about two speakers:

  • Alice Marie Johnson, whose prison sentence Trump commuted.
  • Vernon Jones, a Democratic state representative from Georgia who endorsed Trump, withdrew from re-election, and accused his own party of bigotry against African Americans.

Between the lines: After Trump delivered his third State of the Union address in February, he told people that the moment he loved most was when, mid-speech, he awarded cancer-stricken radio host Rush Limbaugh with America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  • In that made-for-television moment, Trump set a template for this convention:He leveraged one of his presidential powers to create a reality TV surprise.

What we're hearing: Trump's aides say they are keenly aware of the advantages the Democrats had for their convention.

  • Democrats started preparing earlier for a virtual convention because Joe Biden was much quicker than Trump to give up on the idea of an in-person event.
  • Democrats had more celebrities, more Hollywood sizzle and higher-profile crossover supporters, including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

What's new: The Democratic National Convention focused on Joe Biden's character, on racial justice and on bipartisan unity. Major themes of the Republican convention will include "law and order," the "economic comeback" and "cancel culture," said a source familiar with the planning.

  • "There'll be tons of pro-law enforcement messages, tons of pro-military messages, and an overall theme of red-white-and-blue, Trump-style patriotism," said another source briefed on the planning.

The bottom line: People familiar with the planning said Trump will be portrayed as the "tough" leader standing between safe streets and leftist anarchy.

  • Trump-supporting actor James Woods unwittingly previewed the convention with this tweet on Aug. 12: "This is our last stand, folks. And here's your last defender. If they take him down, America is gone forever. Vote for @realDonaldTrump like your life depends on it."
  • That may be the one parallel between the DNC and the RNC: Both sides paint November in existential terms. At the Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama said Americans should vote for Biden "like our lives depend on it."

U.K. clears Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

The United Kingdom became on Wednesday the first Western country in the world to license the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use.

What they're saying: "Today’s emergency use authorisation in the UK marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19," said Albert Bourla, the chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer, per the Guardian.

  • "This authorisation is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK."

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

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Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

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Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

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CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

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