Trump says Nevada fake electors treated ‘unfairly’ during rally in Reno

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump called out three of Nevada’s fake electors Sunday, saying they’re being treated unfairly less than 24 hours before they are scheduled to be arraigned for signing certificates falsely stating Trump won the state in 2020.

Trump did not directly mention the charges nor the upcoming court date during a rally in Reno, but he cast the fake electors as victims in a brief portion of a speech that spanned more than an hour.

“A tremendous man, tremendous guy, gets treated so unfairly and he loves this country and he loves this state,” Trump said of Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, who was one of six Republicans indicted earlier this month by a Nevada grand jury.

Trump’s sympathy for the fake electors who tried to help him cling to power after his 2020 defeat comes amid growing alarm about his authoritarian rhetoric as he looks to return to the White House.

Nevada is the fourth state to choose delegates for the Republican presidential nomination, the first in the West and the first with a sizeable Latino population. But it’s gotten little 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 up all of Nevada’s delegates by winning the caucuses with more than 50% as part of his quest to sew up the GOP nomination early and turn his attention to a general election rematch against President Joe Biden. If he falls short of a majority in Nevada’s caucuses, he’ll have to split the delegates with his rivals.

Trump drew attention to the fake electors as they prepare for a court hearing in Las Vegas on Monday morning.

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

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

Trump said Clark County GOP Chairman Jesse Law is a “fantastic man” who is “treated very unfairly.” He also thanked another fake elector, Jim Hindle, the Storey County clerk and vice chairman of the Nevada GOP, at the rally.

The six fake electors have been charged with offering a false instrument for filing and uttering a forged instrument. Those two categories of felonies have penalties that range from one year up to either four or five years in prison.

McDonald and Law took the rally stage before Trump but both kept their remarks short and did not mention the charges against them. McDonald, the state party chair, spoke for two minutes about the party-run caucus, promising strong turnout would equal a Trump Republican nomination. Law, the Clark County GOP chair, sang the national anthem.

Under McDonald’s leadership, the Nevada GOP pushed to hold a caucus despite a state law requiring a primary, which has caused concern among many Republicans — including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — that the caucus rules would tilt the nominating process in Trump’s favor. The dueling contests have split the GOP field, with former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley competing in the primary and the other Republicans competing in the caucus. Only the caucus will result in delegates to the Republican National Convention, which will ultimately choose the party’s presidential nominee.

Some Nevada Republicans and Trump rivals argue the setup, with a state-run primary on Feb. 6 and a party-run caucus on Feb. 8, will unnecessarily confuse and anger voters.

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

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