Trump lawyers questioned Nevada’s 2020 vote, records show
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nevada’s most populous county has provided the U.S. Justice Department special counsel with correspondence that shows lawyers for then-President Donald Trump raising concerns about the integrity of the 2020 voting process that were later deemed baseless, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Trump’s allies also demanded information about workers who were tasked with counting the votes, a request the county registrar sought to delay out of fear for the workers’ safety.
The correspondence was provided by Clark County to Jack Smith, the special counsel tasked with investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the election, in response to a subpoena seeking communications between Trump associates and county officials. Smith has issued similar subpoenas to officials in other battleground states, including Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, as prosecutors examine a pressure campaign aimed at keeping Trump in power.
The AP obtained the documents Tuesday through a public records request to Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and which — along with Nevada more generally — became a hotbed for conspiracy theories stemming from false claims of election fraud.
The records do not include any communication from Trump himself and do not appear to show attempts to coerce county officials, as Trump tried to do in Georgia. But they do show how Trump’s lawyers for weeks positioned themselves for post-election legal challenges in the county. They alleged that thousands of ballots had been improperly cast and, weeks before the election, filed a public records request aimed at scrutinizing the process by which mail-in and absentee ballots were counted.
Among the documents given to Smith is a letter from lawyers for the Trump campaign to the Clark County district attorney on Nov. 5, 2020, two days after Election Day. It asserted that 3,062 voters who moved from Nevada before the general election had cast ballots in the state and that the number was likely to grow by an additional six thousand.
The lawyers wrote that “lax procedures for authenticating voter identity” had called into question the legitimacy of the entire election in the state.
But the Nevada secretary of state’s office categorically dismissed that claim in a report the following April. The report said that many of the voters alleged by the Nevada Republican Party to have moved out of state or to another country just before the election had actually moved to cities and towns adjacent to military bases.
It also noted that there are numerous legitimate reasons for someone to request a change of postal address while retaining their original Nevada voter registration address.
In addition, a labor-intensive public records request from Trump lawyers, filed as county officials were gearing up for an Election Day less than two weeks away, sought pictures of voter signatures on envelopes that contained mail ballots. The Trump lawyers also wanted information about mail ballots cast in the election without being accompanied by a voter’s signature or that had signatures that didn’t match the one on file in the voter registration record.
Trump lawyers separately sought the names of voters who were part of Clark County’s counting board, as well as the political composition of the board for each shift. The county said it would provide that information — but for security reasons, not until after the election canvas deadline.
Much of the records released to the AP consisted of correspondence between Joe Gloria, at the time the county registrar of voters, and Jesse Law, who was one of six “fake electors” from the Nevada GOP who signed certificates falsely stating that Trump won the state in 2020.
The certificates were sent to Congress and the National Archives, where they ultimately were ignored. Law, who also was part of Trump’s 2020 operation, mainly asked for details of the vote-counting process in Clark County.
In an interview last month, just before he was to step down from the position, Gloria described the harassment he said he and his staff endured during the 2020 election. He said protesters stood 100 feet (about 30 meters) from his office door, some carrying weapons, as he and his staff counted ballots.
He received ominous emails and messages, some reading “We know where you live” and “We know where your family sleeps.”
Smith, a veteran war crimes prosecutor who once led the Justice Department section that prosecutes public corruption, was named special counsel in November to investigate attempts by Trump associates to undo the 2020 election results, as well as the retention of classified records at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.
Within weeks of his appointment, the AP and other news organizations reported on subpoenas sent to local election officials in about a half-dozen battleground states disputed by Trump but won by Democrat Joe Biden.
The AP asked Clark County this week for the same records that were given to Smith. The county responded with a 35-page document consisting largely of correspondence between lawyers for the Trump campaign and Gloria, as well as public records requests and court documents.
The records do not include any correspondence from some of the more prominent names included in the subpoena, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who aided Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results.
Smith also sent a subpoena to Nevada’s then-secretary of state’s office in November, requesting records of communication with a list of Trump-connected officials who spurred efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The office turned over just one document in their response — a Zoom invite between the office and several Nevada GOP fake electors who were not on Smith’s list.
Stern, who reported from Reno, Nevada, is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.