Trump says Nevada fake electors treated 'unfairly' during rally in Reno

RENO, Nev. — Former President Donald Trump called out three of Nevada's fake electors on Sunday, saying they are being treated unfairly, less than 24 hours before they are set to face charges for signing certificates falsely stating Trump won the state in 2020 .

Trump did not directly mention the charges or the upcoming court hearing at a rally in Reno, but he cast the fake voters as victims in a brief portion of a speech that spanned more than an hour.

“A great man, a great guy, is being treated so unfairly and he loves this country and he loves this state,” Trump said of Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, one of six Republicans elected earlier this month a grand jury in Nevada were indicted.

Trump's sympathy for the fake voters who tried to help him stay in power after his 2020 defeat comes amid growing concern about his authoritarian rhetoric as he looks 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 has received little attention from Republican candidates, who have focused their time in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Trump, who is an overwhelming favorite in the polls, wants to sweep all of Nevada's delegates by winning the caucuses by more than 50% as part of his quest to clinch the Republican nomination early and turn his attention to a rematch at the general elections against the president. Joe Biden. If he doesn't win a majority in the Nevada caucuses, he will have to split delegates with his rivals.

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

In December 2020, six Republicans signed certificates falsely declaring that Trump had won Nevada and sent them to Congress and the National Archives, where they were ultimately ignored. The plan, which involved 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 implementation of the bogus voter scheme, including a conference call with McDonald, according to transcripts released last year.

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

The six fake electors have been charged with presenting a forged instrument for filing and pronouncing a forged instrument. These two categories of crimes carry sentences ranging from one year to four or five years in prison.

McDonald and Law took the stage before Trump, but both kept their remarks brief and made no mention of the charges against them. McDonald, the state party chairman, spoke for two minutes about the party-organized caucus and promised that strong turnout would equate to a Republican nomination for Trump. Law, the chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, sang the national anthem.

Under McDonald's leadership, Nevada's Republican Party pushed to hold a caucus despite a state law requiring a primary, which has raised concerns among many Republicans — including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — that caucus rules are interfering with the nomination process would tip Trump's advantage. The dueling contests have divided the Republican field, with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley competing in the primaries and other Republicans 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 format, 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 reiterated his pledge to deport immigrants living in the country illegally in record numbers, but did not repeat his claim from a day earlier that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.” The comment, which echoes Adolf Hitler's language in his own political manifesto, was widely condemned.


Cooper reported from Phoenix. Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Follow Stern on X, formerly Twitter: @gabestern326.