Trump praises lawmaker for assaulting reporter

President Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was accused of "body slamming" reporter Ben Jacobs.

Posted: Oct 19, 2018 2:16 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 2:16 PM

President Donald Trump praised Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte for assaulting a reporter during his campaign last May, saying "any guy who can do a body slam ... he's my guy" and made a gesture mimicking a body slam.

At a Montana rally Thursday night, Trump admitted, "I shouldn't say this," but continued and said, "there's nothing to be embarrassed about."

The comment comes at the same time as the administration responds to the disappearance and apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on October 2 and Turkish media reports that an audio recording suggests Khashoggi was tortured and killed soon after entering the building before being dismembered.

Trump said Thursday "it certainly looks" like Khashoggi is dead. But, Trump said he is "waiting for the results" of investigations being conducted by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, after which he pledged to make "a very strong statement."

Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in June 2017 after he was convicted of "body slamming" Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian. A judge sentenced him to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with a $85 court fee.

Trump said he found out about Gianforte assaulting a reporter when he was traveling in Rome, and initially was concerned it would hurt the Republican in the election.

"Then I said, well wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him. And it did," Trump said. The President's comments were met with laughter and applause from the crowd in Montana.

Gianforte won the election the next day and apologized to Jacobs during his acceptance speech.

"When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it," Gianforte told his supporters at his Election Night rally in Bozeman. "That's the Montana way."

Saying he was "not proud" of his behavior, he added, "I should not have responded the way I did, for that I'm sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs."

At the rally, Trump called Gianforte, "One of the most respected people in Congress," and a "tough cookie."

"By the way, never wrestle him," he said.

Guardian US editor John Mulholland condemned Trump's joke in 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," Mulholland said. "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. We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the President will see fit to apologize for them."

The joke about Gianforte assaulting Jacobs came just after Trump framed the 2018 midterms elections as a choice between Republican law and order and Democratic "mobs."

Trump said the November 6 vote will be "an election of Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order, and common sense. That's what it's going to be".

In a new line for the campaign, he said "Democrats create mobs. Republicans create jobs."

Trump later recalled the back-and-forth with former Vice President Joe Biden over a fight, and again invoked Gianforte's body slam of Jacobs.

"How about sleepy Joe Biden? Sleepy Joe. Remember he challenged me to a fight and that was fine. And when I said he wouldn't last long -- he'd be down faster than Greg would take him down, he'd be down so fast, remember? Faster than Greg -- I'd have to go very fast, I'd have to immediately connect," Trump told the crowd.

Trump recalled the challenge from Biden, to which he said the "fake news" said was "cute." When Trump responded that he'd go down fast, he characterized the media's response in a mocking voice: "They said, what a vicious statement."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515208

Reported Deaths: 10290
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34981557
DeSoto33342432
Hinds32718643
Jackson24896391
Rankin22553404
Lee16439245
Madison14949283
Jones14155248
Forrest13829260
Lauderdale12305324
Lowndes11348193
Lamar10687140
Pearl River9739244
Lafayette8867143
Hancock7847132
Washington7555169
Oktibbeha7228138
Monroe7055179
Pontotoc7026110
Warren6883178
Panola6783135
Neshoba6740210
Marshall6705142
Bolivar6468151
Union642898
Pike5941157
Alcorn5912107
Lincoln5539136
George510680
Prentiss507785
Tippah495483
Itawamba4877107
Scott478799
Adams4775125
Tate4774117
Leflore4747144
Copiah458095
Yazoo457892
Simpson4565117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4318106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4243109
Leake414090
Newton396082
Tishomingo386194
Grenada3786109
Stone365966
Jasper341266
Attala339590
Winston317992
Chickasaw317667
Clay312778
Clarke301695
Calhoun286349
Holmes272589
Smith269952
Yalobusha244647
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220241
Perry214456
Amite210257
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175241
Jefferson Davis174043
Tunica163539
Benton153239
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134639
Humphreys132239
Franklin126430
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847064

Reported Deaths: 16157
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163702006
Mobile743001381
Madison53394737
Shelby38395371
Baldwin38140589
Tuscaloosa36096642
Montgomery34535782
Lee25639264
Calhoun22620519
Morgan22503408
Etowah20043520
Marshall18812317
Houston17754425
St. Clair16928358
Limestone16178220
Cullman16113304
Elmore15927295
Lauderdale15042307
Talladega14234301
DeKalb13033270
Walker12119380
Blount10756193
Autauga10531157
Jackson10191195
Coffee9431192
Colbert9356210
Dale9035192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell709665
Chilton7077170
Escambia6961144
Covington6956195
Franklin6355108
Chambers5791142
Marion5428130
Dallas5299210
Pike5124109
Clarke485586
Lawrence4841130
Winston4784110
Geneva4649136
Bibb435294
Barbour370080
Butler3445101
Marengo342793
Monroe338066
Randolph337367
Pickens334689
Fayette331385
Henry320866
Cherokee319563
Hale318589
Crenshaw261577
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253355
Clay251669
Macon245465
Conecuh193262
Coosa185647
Lowndes178268
Wilcox178138
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130245
Choctaw93328
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