Trump defends six Republicans accused of plotting to overturn his 2020 defeat


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

Trump has repeatedly rejected accusations this month that he has anti-democratic leanings by pointing the finger at President Biden. He often claims, without evidence, that Biden is weaponizing the Justice Department to influence the 2024 election.

At a campaign event Sunday in Reno, Trump sharpened that attack by pointing to the indictment this month of six members of the Nevada Republican Party who had acted as bogus electors in a scheme aimed at overturning Biden's 2020 victory. Among those charged Michael J. McDonald, chairman of the state party, was there.

“They are a bunch of dirty players,” Trump said of Biden and the Democrats. “Look what they are doing here to Michael and the great people of this state. That is a misfortune.”

Trump's comments in Nevada, expected to be a crucial battleground state, are among the many ways he has sought to question the integrity of the electoral process and cast doubt on the results he opposes.

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

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

Still, Republican primary candidates have not campaigned much in the state, where Trump continues to dominate the polls and where the party-led caucus has adopted rules that are expected to tilt the outcome in his favor.

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

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

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

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

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

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 nominated states) in five days. He is scheduled to return to Iowa on Tuesday.

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