President Donald Trump has praised a congressman who assaulted a journalist at a rally last year. Speaking in Montana, Trump praised Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to the assault of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in May last year.
“Any guy that can do a body slam — he’s my kind of guy,” Trump told the crowd, to apparent cheers. This is not the first time Trump has suggested his approval of violence against journalists or opponents of his political agenda. There have been incidents of violence and aggression against journalists at this rallies.
Gianforte body slammed Ben Jacobs after Jacobs asked him a question about healthcare. Jacobs’ glasses were broken and Gianforte blamed him for the confrontation. The next day, Gianforte won a special election to the House of Representatives.
Gianforte later apologized to Jacobs and promised to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists. House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized Gianforte at the time, but the assault had no apparent effect on voting in the special election.
Trump’s praise of Gianforte’s assault comes as Republicans are warning about violence from left-wing activists. Some GOP politicians and right-wing media figures have been trying to stoke up fear of Democratic violence, citing Antifa and even MS-13. They have denied that there is a threat from right-wing violence.
Gianforte is facing a Democratic challenger in November’s midterm elections, but he is likely to be re-elected in deep red Montana. Gianforte is a reliable Trump supporter and has shown little contrition for the assault, despite apologizing directly to Jacobs.