Trump says fake Nevada voters were treated ‘unfairly’ at Reno rally

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Former President Donald Trump called out three of Nevada’s fraudulent voters on Sunday, saying they were treated unfairly less than 24 hours before they were due in court to sign certificates saying Trump had won the state in 2020.

Trump did not directly mention the charges or the upcoming court date during a rally in Reno, but he portrayed the fraudulent voters as victims in a brief segment of a speech that lasted more than an hour.

“A great man, a great man, is being treated so unfairly and he loves this country and he loves this state,” Trump said of Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald, who was one of six Republicans indicted earlier this month by a major Nevada jury.

Trump’s sympathy for the fake voters who tried to help him hang on to power after his 2020 defeat comes amid growing concern about his authoritarian rhetoric as he seeks to return to the White House.

Nevada is the fourth state to elect delegates for the Republican presidential nomination, the first in the West and the first with a significant Latino population. But it didn’t get much attention from the GOP contenders, who have focused their time in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Trump, who is overwhelmingly favored in polls, is looking to sweep all of Nevada’s delegates, winning the caucus by more than 50 percent as part of his bid to clinch the GOP nomination early and turn his attention to a general election rematch against President Joe Biden. If he doesn’t get a majority in the Nevada caucuses, he will have to split delegates with his rivals.

Trump drew attention to voter fraud as they prepare for a court hearing in Las Vegas on Monday morning.

In December 2020, six Republicans signed certificates stating Trump won Nevada and sent them to Congress and the National Archives, where they were ultimately ignored. The scheme, involving several battleground states, was an attempt to create a pretext for Trump to remain president despite his loss.

Trump and his lawyers had a direct hand in the planning and execution of the fraudulent election scheme, including a conference call with McDonald, transcripts released last year show.

Trump said Clark County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Lowe is a “fantastic person” who has been “treated very unfairly.” He also thanked another fake voter, Jim Hindle, a Story County clerk and vice chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, at the rally.

The six fake voters were charged with offering a false document for filing and proclaiming a forged document. These two categories of crimes carry penalties that range from one year to four or five years in prison.

McDonald and Law took the stage at the rally before Trump, but both kept their remarks brief and did not mention the allegations against them. MacDonald, the state party chairman, spoke for two minutes to the party-led caucus, promising that a strong turnout would equal Trump’s Republican nomination. Lowe, chairman of the Clark County GOP, sang the national anthem.

Under MacDonald’s leadership, the Nevada Republican Party insisted on holding a caucus despite state law requiring a primary election, causing concern among many Republicans— including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — that caucus rules would tilt the nominating process in Trump’s favor. The dueling races split the Republican Party, with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley competing in the primary and other Republicans competing in the caucus. The caucus alone will lead to delegates to the Republican National Convention, which will ultimately choose the party’s presidential nominee.

Some Nevada Republicans and Trump rivals say the setup, with a state primary on Feb. 6 and a party-run caucus on Feb. 8, would be unnecessary confuse and anger voters.

In Reno, Trump repeated his promise to deport immigrants living in the country illegally in record numbers, but he did not repeat his claim from a day earlier that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.” The remark, which echoed Adolf Hitler’s language in his own political manifesto, was widely condemned.

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Cooper reported from Phoenix. Stern is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. America Report is a program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Follow Stern on X, formerly Twitter: @gabester326.

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