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RNC Descends into Chaos as “Never Trump” Movement Attempts Revolt on Convention Floor

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Thousands of Republican Party delegates are here in Cleveland, Ohio, for the 2016 Republican National Convention, where the party is expected to formally nominate Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee. But not all delegates are happy about Donald Trump, and on Monday the RNC briefly descended into chaos as members of the Never Trump movement launched a revolt by demanding for a roll call vote—a lengthy process that would allow every state to have their vote count. However, when the time came to present the proposed rules to the full convention, the Trump campaign and Republican Party leadership quashed the rebellious faction by instead opting for a voice vote—quickly declaring the opponents lacked enough votes. Pandemonium erupted on the floor, with shouts for a roll call vote being drowned out by Trump supporters chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” Democracy Now!’s Deena Guzder filed this report.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, we are “Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency.” We’re here in Cleveland, Ohio, covering the Republican National Convention, inside and out, from the streets to the suites to the convention floor.

On Monday afternoon, the RNC briefly erupted in chaos when some opponents of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump stormed off the convention floor and others chanted in protest at their failure to win a symbolic vote opposing Trump’s candidacy. The high-profile floor fight pitted the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee leadership against a faction of delegates from the Never Trump movement, shattering any notion of a unified Republican Party. The anti-Trump forces wanted to change the party’s nominating rules to allow delegates to support alternative Republican candidates over Trump. They rattled the Trump campaign and Republican leadership by producing signatures from a majority of delegates from 11 states and territories, far more than the seven jurisdictions needed to force an up-or-down vote on the convention’s rules package.

The delegates said the signatures qualified them for a roll call vote, a lengthy process that would allow every state to have their vote count. However, when the time came to present the proposed rules to the full convention, the Trump campaign and Republican Party leadership squashed the rebellious faction by instead opting for a voice vote, quickly declaring the opponents lacked enough votes. Pandemonium erupted on the floor, with shouts for a roll call vote being drowned out by Trump supporters chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” While Trump’s detractors acknowledge they were unlikely to be able to vote down the rules, they say they were seeking a roll call vote to register their dissent over a Trump candidacy.

Democracy Now!’s Deena Guzder filed this report.

DANE WATERS: My name is Dane Waters. I’m co-founder of Delegates Unbound. I’m hopeful that the RNC will follow the rules, like we follow the rules, and that the delegates will have the opportunity to vote their conscience. I mean, what’s lost in a lot of this is who these delegates are. These delegates are everyday people, like Lori Hack from Arizona, mother of three, who’s coming here for the very first time. I mean, so most people aren’t used to the type of intimidation that takes place. You know, we’re hopeful that the Trump campaign will respect the delegates and not put too much pressure on them, but we’ve heard reports over and over again about the intimidation and the pressure. And we’ll just see what happens. I mean, there are a lot of delegates out there who have been—who have pushed back on this, that are trying to show that they should be strong and push back. But, I mean, it’s a tough thing. I mean, this intimidation of these delegates has been ongoing and relentless.

But the next thing that has to happen is that, at the beginning of the rules report, then several of the delegations have to stand up and say, “We make the following motion, because we submitted so many signatures from so many states, that there should be a roll call vote.” Now, they could gloss over that. They can ignore those individuals. So that’s the next interesting thing, whether they turn the microphones off or not. Now, they could—you know, I have no doubt in my mind that they’re going to try to say that there’s something wrong with the signatures, something wrong with the forms. And here’s the thing. So many people signed that petition in the last 24 hours. This goes back to the overall theme, is that they’re trying to keep the delegates silenced. Well, it’s a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and the heart and soul of this country. If Donald Trump has the support he says he does and he wants to unify this party, the he just needs to say, “Hey, you know, vote freely for me.”

DELEGATES: Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote!

SEAN IRELAND: My name’s Sean Ireland. I’m a delegate from Texas. And right now we’re trying to force a roll call vote on the rules.

ANTHONY SCANNAPIECO: My name is Anthony Scannapieco. I’m a delegate to the convention from Putnam County, New York.

DEENA GUZDER: What do you think about the delegates who are calling for a roll call vote right now?

ANTHONY SCANNAPIECO: It’s not going to happen. Rules were adopted. It’s not going to happen.

DEENA GUZDER: Mr. Lewandowski, Mr. Lewandowski, what happened right now with the roll call vote?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI: There is no roll call vote. The rules were up and down. It’s all done.

REP. STEVE WOMACK: Those in favor of the rules package will say “aye.”

DELEGATES: Aye!

REP. STEVE WOMACK: Those opposed shall say “no.”

DELEGATES: No!

REP. STEVE WOMACK: In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.

DELEGATE: Point of order, Mr. Chair!

DELEGATES: Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote! Roll call vote!

DELEGATE: Point of order!

REP. STEVE WOMACK: Is anybody seeking recognition?

DELEGATE: Yes!

DELEGATE: Point of order, Mr. Chairman! Point of order!

DELEGATE: Recognition! Right here!

DELEGATE: Right here!

DELEGATE: Point of order.

ANN EUBANK: Vote! Vote!

DEENA GUZDER: What is your name, and where are you a delegate from?

ANN EUBANK: Alabama. My name is Ann Eubank. They want to approve the rules without a vote. The state of Alabama is not unanimous. The Cruz people do not want the rules. We want to vote no, because there’s four or five in there that gives the RNC the power top down, and the Trump people and the RNC want the rule package as it stands.

DEENA GUZDER: Why do you feel it’s important that there is a roll call vote at this moment? There seems to be a lot of people chanting “U.S.A.!” and in support of Trump.

ANN EUBANK: Because that’s what Trump does. He’s a bully. He overrules everything that is against what he wants specifically. And we, the Cruz people, want a voice.

REP. STEVE WOMACK: The chair recognizes the delegate from Utah.

PHIL WRIGHT: My name is Phil Wright. I am the chair of the Utah delegation. I make a motion that we have a roll call vote on the rules.

DELEGATE: I second the motion!

REP. STEVE WOMACK: The secretary received request from a total of nine states requesting a roll call vote on adoption of a report on the Committee on Rules. Subsequently, the secretary received withdrawals, which caused three states to fall below the threshold required under the rules. Accordingly—accordingly, the chair has found insufficient support for the request for a record vote.

SCOTT HAWKINS: My name is Scott Hawkins, and I’m with the Utah delegation.

DEENA GUZDER: And what just happened here on the floor?

SCOTT HAWKINS: We were just cheated out of our right to vote.

DEENA GUZDER: Why do you think that they wouldn’t allow a vote to happen, the RNC heads allow a vote to happen?

SCOTT HAWKINS: Because the RNC has obviously made a deal with Trump. They feel that they can control Trump and make deals with him. The RNC is kind of like the party of crony capitalism, and we’re more like free market capitalism, the real thing.

DEENA GUZDER: Which candidate did you support before Donald Trump came on the scene?

SCOTT HAWKINS: Ted Cruz.

DEENA GUZDER: If Donald Trump becomes the party’s official nominee, will you support him?

SCOTT HAWKINS: I’ll have to see. I haven’t made up my mind about that yet.

DEENA GUZDER: What are some of your concerns about Donald Trump?

SCOTT HAWKINS: I know that the party is encouraging people to support whoever the nominee is, but I find Trump so repulsive, it may be difficult for me.

DEENA GUZDER: What about him do you find so repulsive?

SCOTT HAWKINS: His divisiveness, the way he—well, he makes fun of people who are—who have disabilities. He makes fun of people who—of different colors. So he has a bigoted—he has bigoted attitudes. That’s not the party. That’s not the Republican Party.

AMY GOODMAN: That was from the first night, the opening of the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland, Ohio. Special thanks to Democracy Now!’s Deena Guzder, Elizabeth Press and Sam Alcoff. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a debate between two of the Republican delegates, one for Donald Trump and one against. Stay with us.

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“Never Trump” vs. Unite Behind the Candidate: A Debate on the Future of the Republican Party

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