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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 2:54 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 3:16 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."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 703345

Reported Deaths: 13194
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion959691716
Lake51222940
Allen38926670
Hamilton34288404
St. Joseph33770539
Elkhart27117431
Vanderburgh22034393
Tippecanoe21671212
Johnson17451374
Porter17206297
Hendricks16735310
Clark12657190
Madison12302337
Vigo12155244
Monroe11385166
LaPorte10800204
Delaware10312184
Howard9617211
Kosciusko9068113
Hancock7939139
Bartholomew7854153
Warrick7675155
Floyd7542176
Wayne6880198
Grant6773170
Boone6524100
Morgan6370138
Dubois6071117
Marshall5753108
Dearborn568075
Cass5671102
Henry5563100
Noble537983
Jackson492369
Shelby477795
Lawrence4332118
Gibson427389
Harrison426570
Montgomery416486
Clinton416053
DeKalb406684
Huntington376980
Whitley375539
Miami371465
Knox365389
Steuben362657
Putnam351960
Wabash346677
Jasper346146
Adams337652
Ripley333368
Jefferson311579
White307354
Daviess288899
Wells285180
Decatur278592
Fayette277062
Greene270385
Posey268333
Scott260553
Clay252244
LaGrange251470
Randolph234480
Washington230431
Spencer227431
Jennings224647
Fountain207745
Sullivan207342
Starke201952
Owen191856
Fulton190839
Carroll185620
Jay185529
Perry179536
Orange176553
Rush170324
Vermillion165743
Franklin165435
Tipton160943
Parke143816
Blackford132831
Pike130134
Pulaski113145
Newton102934
Brown99640
Crawford97014
Benton96213
Martin82415
Warren78915
Switzerland7698
Union69610
Ohio55511
Unassigned0405

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1048109

Reported Deaths: 18917
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1217031352
Cuyahoga1063982060
Hamilton779451165
Montgomery49883989
Summit45144907
Lucas39826760
Butler37638568
Stark31348894
Lorain24090472
Warren23835291
Mahoning20822583
Lake19915362
Clermont19397228
Delaware17972130
Licking16089206
Fairfield15646196
Trumbull15521459
Medina14815259
Greene14613236
Clark13576288
Wood12709184
Portage12313194
Allen11303229
Richland11017198
Miami10511212
Muskingum8688127
Wayne8543209
Columbiana8527226
Pickaway8421120
Marion8360135
Tuscarawas8359239
Erie7540153
Ross6692145
Hancock6683123
Geauga6527146
Ashtabula6458164
Scioto6280100
Belmont5591158
Union556247
Lawrence5458102
Jefferson5283147
Huron5270113
Darke5264121
Sandusky5164119
Seneca5093118
Washington5074107
Athens499454
Auglaize474884
Mercer470384
Shelby455089
Knox4371108
Madison421058
Putnam420298
Ashland412086
Fulton407966
Defiance399996
Crawford3858100
Brown385555
Logan372276
Preble369598
Clinton359659
Ottawa355478
Highland346059
Williams323274
Champaign318556
Jackson306951
Guernsey305848
Perry289349
Fayette276948
Morrow274439
Hardin263563
Henry263166
Coshocton258257
Holmes252699
Van Wert238662
Gallia233246
Pike232431
Adams227552
Wyandot226353
Hocking208958
Carroll188947
Paulding168538
Meigs141438
Noble132737
Monroe128841
Morgan106423
Harrison105336
Vinton81414
Unassigned02
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Temperatures start to climb back up on Friday as we'll see mostly sunny skies return to northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.
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