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Donald Trump appears with frontline workers and freed ‘hostages’ from the White House

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President Donald Trump appeared Monday night at the Republican National Convention leading conversations from the White House with people he’s helped. 

Trump talked with frontline workers and then with six hostages who were returned home over the course of his first term. 

‘You took unprecedented steps, actually, to secure my release and your admnistration really fought for me,’ Pastor Andrew Brunson told the president from the Diplomatic Reception Room. 

President Trump spoke with six hostages his administration freed during one of two segments of the Republican National Convention filmed at the White House Monday night 

The president also appeared with frontline workers at the White House, briefly leading a discussion with them 

President Trump invited hostages to the White House including Pastor Andrew Brunson (left), Sam Goodwin (center) and Michael White (right) 

THE HOSTAGES DONALD TRUMP APPEARED WITH ON NIGHT NO. 1 OF THE RNC 

PASTOR ANDREW BRUNSON: Brunson is an American pastor who was imprisoned in Turkey for two years. Brunson was jailed in October 2016 during the purges that followed the unsuccessful coup that year. Brunson was held for a year without charges and then was charged with involvement in the coup. Throughout 2018, President Donald Trump pressured Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  using Twitter and sanctions. In October 2018, Turkey charged Brunson with aiding terrorism, but sentenced him to time served, allowing him to leave the country and return to the United States. 

JOSHUA AND THAMARA HOLT:  Joshua Holt is a Utah man who traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry his now-wife Thamara. Holt was arrested outside his wife’s Caracas apartment, accused of stockpiling weapons, with authorities linking him to American efforts to destabilize President Nicolas Maduro’s regime. His wife was also arrested. U.S. officials including then Sen. Orrin Hatch, former GOP Rep. Mia Love and others in the Trump administration applied pressure to get the Holts freed, which happened in May 2018.  

SAM GOODWIN: Sam Goodwin was traveling in Syria in 2019 who was held for 63 days.  Goodwin, a tourist who aspired to visit every country, was freed with the help of Lebanon as a mediator in July 2019.      

PASTOR BRYAN NERREN: Pastor Bryan Nerren was arrested in India in 2019 for failing to claim $40,000 he was carrying. Nerren’s family called the arrest targeted due to Nerren’s Christian faith. He was imprisoned for six days in deplorable conditions, then released but with his passport confiscated. COVID-19 slowed down his trial, but President Donald Trump’s trip to India in February was viewed as instrumental to Nerren getting his freedom. He returned to the U.S. in May. 

MICHAEL WHITE:  Michael White is a U.S. Navy veteran who was held in Iran for nearly two years by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. President Trump’s State Department and former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, worked with Swiss authorities to barter for White’s release. He returned to the U.S. in June 2020. 

Brunson returned to the U.S. from Turkey in October 2018, after imprisoning him during the purges in 2016 that followed an unsuccessful coup. 

‘We had to get you back,’ Trump said.  

American tourist Sam Goodwin, who was held for 63 days in Syria, sang the praises of Robert O’Brien and said he was happy that Trump promoted him to national security adviser.  ‘I can’t say enough nice things about him,’ Goodwin said, crediting O’Brien with his July 2019 release. 

Michael White spoke about being jailed by the Iranian regime. 

‘It was a major, major trap. I was apprehended there,’ he said. ‘But what you did sir, is you were able to get me out of that prison in record time, it was amazing,’ White said.   

And then Josh Holt, along with his wife Thamara, who had both been jailed in Venezuela, talked about how it was a ‘great honor’ for Trump to immediately welcome them to the White House in June 2018, when they got back. 

‘I don’t really remember a whole lot of it,’ Holt admitted. ‘It’s nice to meet you again.’ 

Pastor Bryan Nerren, who was detained as he was traveling through India to get to Nepal. 

‘The darkest moment of our whole time together, your letter to my wife came, and it really gave her the hope and the peace,’ Nerren said. 

Overall, Trump boasted that he had freed 50 American hostages from 22 countries.  

Earlier in the first night of the RNC, Trump thanked a group of frontline workers from the White House.  

‘There are my friends, these are the incredible workers that helped us so much with the COVID – we can call it many different things, from China virus – I don’t want to go through all the names because some people may get insulted but that’s the way it is,’ Trump said jumpstarting the conversation. 

‘These are great, great people. Great job, thank you!’ he continued. 

The president then went around and found out he was spoking to two postal workers, including a Post Office custodian. 

‘That profession will never be out of business,’ Trump commented. 

He had also invited to the White House a trucker from Ohio. 

‘Well, congratulations, I love the truckers,’ Trump said. ‘They’re on my side.’ 

Two nurses were in the room, along with a police officer from Colorado who had contracted – and recovered from – COVID-19. 

‘We jsut have to make this Chian virus go away, and it’s happening,’ the president said.    

The two Trump-helmed segments were part of more than two hours of programming that marked the first night of the Republican Pary’s own ‘virtual’ convention. 

Most of the mainstage speeches were being filmed several blocks down the road at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. 

While others, like that of Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the House’s most pro-Trump Republicans, were filmed from home. 

Earlier Monday, Trump had traveled to North Carolina, which had been the original site of the 2020 RNC, before the president called it partially off and tried to move the major speaking portions to Florida. 

The president spent the day blaming the convention not happening in North Carolina on the state’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.  

The Jacksonville, Florida portion had to be cancelled as well due to a spike in the state’s coronavirus cases. 

The president is due to speak Thursday from the White House to officially accept his party’s nomination.  

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