Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

This week's Republican National Convention will 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."

Go deeper

Updated Nov 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Skripal poisoning suspects linked to Czech blast, as country expels 18 Russians

Combined images released by British police in 2018 of Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out an attack in the in the southern English city of Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and also the2014 Czech depot explosion. Photo: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbětice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.