Trump Defends 6 Republicans Charged in Scheme to Overturn His 2020 Loss

At a campaign event in Nevada, the former president said, without evidence, that Democrats were unfairly targeting the Republican officials accused of being fake electors.

Donald Trump speaking on a stage with two American flags behind him. He is pointing up with both hands.
Former President Donald J. Trump faces charges over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Former President Donald J. Trump on Sunday defended six Nevada Republicans who were recently indicted in connection with a scheme to overturn his 2020 election loss, claiming without evidence that they were victims of political persecution by the Biden administration.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly rebuffed accusations this month that he has antidemocratic inclinations by pointing his finger at President Biden. He often claims without evidence that Mr. Biden is weaponizing the Justice Department to influence the 2024 election.

At a campaign event on Sunday in Reno, Mr. Trump sharpened that attack by pointing to the indictment this month in state court of six members of Nevada’s Republican Party who had acted as fake electors in a scheme intended to overturn Mr. Biden’s 2020 victory. Those charged in the case, which was brought by Nevada’s attorney general, included Michael J. McDonald, the state party’s chairman.

“They’re a bunch of dirty players,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Biden and Democrats. “Look at what they’re doing right here to Michael and great people in this state. It’s a disgrace.”

Mr. Trump’s comments in Nevada, which is expected to be a crucial battleground state, are among the many ways he has sought to question the integrity of the election process and to raise doubts about results he opposes.

The former president, who also faces charges over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, repeated his false claims that the election was stolen from him. And he broadly accused Democrats of cheating in elections, without evidence.

Both parties are eyeing Nevada next year, when a Senate seat will also be on the ballot. The state has voted for Democratic presidents consistently since 2008, but other races have been more competitive. A poll released last month by The New York Times and Siena College found that Mr. Trump was leading Mr. Biden in Nevada by 10 points.

Still, Republican primary candidates have not campaigned much in the state, where Mr. Trump remains dominant in polls, and where the party-run caucus has adopted rules expected to tilt the outcome in his favor.

A wide shot of Donald Trump on a lighted stage. A huge American flag is on the wall in the background, and a large crowd, more dimly lit, is watching him speak.
Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has grown more severe as he campaigns for the presidency for the third time.Credit…Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Mr. Trump’s speech in Reno focused heavily on Mr. Biden, offering a possible preview of attacks he may wield if he wins the Republican nomination and the two face off next fall.

As he conjured up a dark vision of America plagued by crime and overrun by violent and mentally ill immigrants, his campaign displayed a new slogan, “Safer With Trump,” on screens around him. (His campaign has unveiled a similar message, “Better Off With Trump,” with regards to the economy.)

As he often does at rallies, Mr. Trump asserted that leaders of unspecified countries were releasing patients from “insane asylums” and sending them to the United States. Fact checkers have found no evidence, but Mr. Trump has repeatedly compared migrants to Hannibal Lecter, the fictional cannibal and serial killer.

“That’s what we got,” Mr. Trump said of Lecter. “We’ve got him coming in. And this is not good. That’s like an explosion waiting to happen.”

Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has grown more severe as he campaigns for the third time. In New Hampshire on Saturday, he told the crowd that immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country,” a comment that previously drew condemnation because of echoes to language used by white supremacists and Adolf Hitler.

Mr. Trump’s stop in Reno was part of an unusually busy campaign schedule in which he gave speeches in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — the first three nominating states — in five days. He is scheduled to return to Iowa on Tuesday.

Michael Gold is a political correspondent for The Times covering the campaigns of Donald J. Trump and other candidates in the 2024 presidential elections. More about Michael Gold

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