President Donald Trump praised GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte from Montana for attacking a reporter. The incident happened during a House race last year. Trump appeared to celebrate the actions of Gianforte during a campaign rally in the state saying “any guy that can do a body slam is my guy.” The GOP Rep. pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault after the incident. He was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and an additional 20 hours of anger management counseling. Gianforte was also fined $385 for the incident.
The then GOP candidate for the House responded with physical violence after he was confronted with a burning question on health care policy. He later apologized to Ben Jacobs, the Guardian Reporter who was involved in the incident. However, Trump didn’t see anything wrong with this. In fact, he made it clear that he was sure the incident wouldn’t hurt Gianforte’s election chances under the GOP ticket. The Republican candidate would later win the race as predicted by many analysts.
The remarks by the president come at a time when the US is stuck between a rock and a hard place as it mulls over a response over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Trump administration has repeatedly noted that if indeed Saudi Arabia was involved in the disappearance then there would be consequences. However, nothing yet has happened. Khashoggi was a US-based journalist and a tough critic of the Saudi government. He was last seen entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Turkish authorities have insisted they have evidence that suggests the journalist was murdered inside the consulate while the US has called for a thorough investigation into the matter.
The president’s remarks also drew condemnation in the media fraternity too. John Mulholland, the US editor for The Guardian likened Trump’s remarks to an attack on First Amendment rights. He argued that the idea of celebrating violence against a journalist who was just trying to do his job is sad.
The president also went on to joke about beating up Joe Biden. The former vice president under the Obama administration is said to be a likely candidate in the 2020 race. At one point Biden said he would have “beaten the hell” out of Trump when they were younger. The President has responded to this quite a number of times with the latest response coming in the Montana rally. Trump finalized with an all too familiar swipe towards Democrats calling them mobs.
The president was in Montana to campaign for GOP Senate candidate Matt Rosendale who is coming up against the Democratic incumbent Jon Tester. The Montana race is seen by many analysts as one of the most hotly contested although Republicans are confident they can flip it since Trump won handsomely in the state back in 2016. Trump has repeatedly accused Tester of blocking his agenda and in particular tanking the nomination of Ronny Jackson to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. The stop in Montana is the first of three for the president over the coming days. Trump is also expected to campaign for GOP candidates in Nevada and Arizona.