At Trump hotel in Las Vegas, supporters are undeterred by guilty verdict: ‘I don’t care’

About an hour after Donald Trump was convicted of felony crimes on Thursday, a cyclist rode past his towering golden hotel on the Las Vegas Strip in 99-degree heat to celebrate the New York jury’s verdict.

“We got you, Trump! We got you!” he screamed.

But inside the opulent Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, under crystal chandeliers and fanned by raging air conditioners, a bartender called it a “witch hunt” and the former president’s supporters remained undeterred by his new title of convicted felon.

“I don’t care about that,” Amanda Ripley, of Washington state, said of Trump’s 34 felonies for falsifying business records — part of a hush money scheme during his 2016 campaign to cover up a sex scandal with a porn actor.

Ripley was celebrating her 37th birthday at Trump’s hotel with her husband, and said she plans to vote for him again despite the convictions, in part because of his hard-line immigration policies.

“Absolutely he could still be elected,” she said. “That would be fantastic.”

The perspective here is no surprise. Inside the hotel, Fox News blared on TV at the bar, the gift shop was selling Trump hats, and the menu at the DJT restaurant featured a rum cocktail called “Death by Trial.”

Still, many questions remain about how the felony convictions will impact Trump’s presidential campaign going forward. Thursday’s unprecedented verdict makes Trump the first former president to be convicted of felony crimes, but that doesn’t disqualify him from becoming president if elected in November. Based on the charges, Trump could go to prison or be sentenced to home probation.

For some of the tourists from across the country who were staying at the Vegas hotel in his name, Trump’s conviction was viewed as a boost — not a deterrent — in his run against Democratic President Biden.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted this month found that 16% of Trump supporters would reconsider their support if convicted as he was Thursday, and 4% would not vote for him.

Don Dutra, a Republican veteran visiting Vegas from San Antonio who used to reside in Fresno, said he plans to vote for Trump again — but won’t if he’s in prison.

While Dutra said “no way” should Trump be allowed to be elected president from prison, he said he believes that he’s not much different from presidents past — he’s just the one who got caught.

“Clinton did worse, far worse in my opinion,” Dutra said outside the Trump hotel Thursday, noting the Monica Lewinsky scandal and echoing unfounded right-wing conspiracy theories about the Clintons.

Not everyone in the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas was a fan of the former president — some just got a deal.

Duane Baker, a City Council member in Bellevue, Ohio, who plans to vote for Biden, said he “despises” Trump. He was having a drink at the bar in the Trump hotel only because a friend had won a trip after sitting through a timeshare presentation.

Asked whether he believes Trump’s convictions could keep him from being elected again, Baker at first laughed, recalling his “lock her up” chants about his rival Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But he turned serious thinking ahead to November.

“This to me is probably the first election — and I’ve been voting since ’77 — that it’s really the lesser of two evils,” he said. “It really is: Who is the best choice out of two bad choices?”

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Kevin harson

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