Donald Trump’s war on the media knows no bounds.
At a Thursday rally in Missoula, Mont., the president praised Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte and recounted his assault on Guardian (U.S.) reporter Ben Jacobs.
“Greg is smart, and by the way, never wrestle him,” Trump joked after Gianforte made brief remarks at the microphone.
“You understand that? Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of…” Trump continued, mimicking the wrestling move as his crowd cheered him on. “He’s my guy.”
Gianforte was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management classes after pleading guilty to violently assaulting Jacobs on May 24, 2017, the night before he won his election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“So I was in Rome, with a lot of the leaders from other countries, talking about all sorts of things, and I heard about it. And we endorsed Greg very early, but I had heard that he had body-slammed a reporter,” Trump said, pointing at the media assembled to cover the rally. “And he was way up, and I said, this was like the day of the election or just before, and I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ And then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well. I think it might help him, and it did.”
Gianforte defeated his Democratic opponent, Rob Quist, by 50.2 percent to 44.1 percent of the vote.
“Nah, he’s a great guy,” Trump concluded. “Tough cookie.”
Trump used the same rally to decry Democrats as the “party of crime.”
“The Democrats have truly turned into an angry mob,” the president said.
He also repeatedly swiped at the media, branding those assembled to cover him as “the fake news.”
Trump made no mention at his rally, however, of Saudi Arabia’s possible involvement in the disappearance and likely assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Shortly after Trump concluded his remarks, the Guardian issued a statement.
“The President of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian. To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it. In the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world where they often face far greater threats,” John Mulholland, the news outlet’s U.S. editor said in the statement. “We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the President will see fit to apologize for them.”
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