Fox News incorrectly implied a protester who says he was assaulted at a Donald Trump rally was using his dead grandmother’s name to commit voter fraud.
Austin Crites—whose protest during a Trump rally in Nevada prompted the Secret Service to rush the Republican candidate offstage—contacted the Guardian after learning of a Fox News segment that implied he committed voter fraud by casting a vote for his grandmother who has “been dead since 2002.”
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade made the claim during a segment labelled “Reno Trump protestor linked to voter fraud.”
“This morning, yet another reminder [of voter fraud] from the guy who interrupted Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday, who many people thought had a gun,” Kilmeade said. The Fox host insisted Crites, who was holding a ‘Republicans against Trump’ sign, “claimed he was a Republican” but is actually a “huge Hillary supporter.”
“His grandmother has been using [his] address to vote absentee for years,” Kilmeade said. ‘But she’s been dead since 2002.”
The only problem? His grandmother, 90-year old Wilda Austin, is “alive and well.”
Crites told the Guardian he was shocked by the report, and the barrage of falsehoods the Trump campaign pushed after the incident. Trump campaign senior media aide Dan Scavino pushed a theory that Crites was behind an “assassination attempt” against Trump.
Sunday, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway defended Scavino’s lie, insisting Crites “is a Democratic plant or operative trying to disrupt our rally.”
Crites, a fiscal conservative who’s been a registered Republican since 2011, told the Guardian that while he canvassed for the Democratic candidate and donated to the campaign, his protest against Trump was of his own volition because he considers the Republican candidate “a textbook version of a dictator and a fascist.”
For grandma Wilda Austin, the torrent of abuse and threats since Crites came forward with his account of the Nevada rally made her hesitant to appear on camera. But she agreed to meet a licensed notary in Nevada to verify her social security documents, birth certificate and signature.
“Please correct the record,” Austin told the Guardian.
“Wilda’s very much is alive,” the grandson said.
Watch the video below, via the Guardian.