Trump broke rules for indoor rally, only on-camera fans required masks

President Donald Trump held a rally indoors in Nevada on Sunday in defiance of state coronavirus rules. 
Only supporters standing behind the president, who would appear in TV footage of the event, had to wear masks, the Associated Press reported.
Livestream footage and pictures clearly showed other supporters without masks and not practicing social distancing. 
Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, accused the president of “reckless and selfish actions” that endangered lives in the state.
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Breaching state coronavirus rules that ban indoor gatherings of more than 50 people, President Donald Trump held a packed indoor rally near Las Vegas on Sunday.

Most of the president’s supporters, according to reports and pictures of the event, attended the rally inside a warehouse in Henderson without wearing masks and did not practice social distancing.

But there was an exception.

According to the Associated Press, those standing directly behind the president — who were therefore likely to appear in TV news footage — were required to wear face coverings.

Images from livestreams of the event, the White House pool report, and news organizations showed supporters in the packed area in front of the stage where the president spoke. They mostly did not wear face coverings.

—Jérôme Cartillier (@jcartillier) September 14, 2020

Trump supporters, many not wearing masks, at the president’s rally on Sunday.

Jerome Cartillier/AFP via White House Press Pool

The Trump campaign’s own footage of the rally showed many supporters in this area unmasked.

Livestream footage showed Trump supporters, many not wearing masks, in Henderson on Sunday.

Trump campaign

In contrast, images of the president’s hour-long speech showed those gathered in a raised area behind the stage nearly all in face coverings, in compliance with mandates by state authorities.

Trump leaving the stage on Sunday.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move embodies the contradictory messages coming from the Trump campaign about the coronavirus, which has killed more than 193,000 Americans.

The president has sought to downplay the impact of the crisis, and in his speech Sunday he railed against Nevada’s Democratic governor, Steve Sisolak, calling on him to lift restrictions designed to slow the spread of the disease. Nevada has reported about 1,500 deaths from COVID-19.

“You have a governor right now who is a political hack,” Trump told the audience. “Tell your governor to open up your state, by the way. Open up your state.”

The order for on-camera supporters to be masked may also represent a partial concession to authorities in Henderson, who have threatened to sue those responsible for staging the event in violation of state rules, CNN reported.

A Trump campaign spokesman earlier hit back at criticism of the president for staging an indoor rally, telling outlets including The Hill: “If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the First Amendment to hear from the president of the United States.”

He said that supporters would be encouraged to wear masks at the event and that temperature checks would be conducted on attendees at the doors.

Sunday’s event was the first indoor Trump rally since a gathering in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June. The event was attended by the former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, who shortly afterward fell ill with the coronavirus and died.

In a statement Sunday night, Sisolak accused the president of “reckless and selfish actions” that put lives in danger.

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