Wednesday 23 October 2019

Politican who struck reporter 'is my kind of guy' - Trump

Remarks: US President Donald Trump at the rally in Montana
Remarks: US President Donald Trump at the rally in Montana

Zamira Rahim

US President Donald Trump has praised a Republican Congressman's violent assault on a reporter.

At a rally in May 2017, Montana representative Greg Gianforte attacked the journalist on the eve of a special election he went on to win.

He pleaded guilty to assaulting the 'Guardian' reporter but avoided jail and instead was ordered to undergo community service, anger management therapy and pay a fine.

Referring to the incident in front of a crowd in Missoula, Montana, on Thursday evening, Mr Trump said: "I had heard he bodyslammed a reporter," adding that he was initially concerned that the attack would lead to Mr Gianforte losing the vote.

"I said, 'Wait a minute. I know Montana pretty well; I think it might help him.' And it did," he said.

"Anybody that can do a body slam," the president added, "that's my kind of guy."

Mr Trump also jokingly warned the crowd to "never wrestle" the congressman.

At the time, Mr Gianforte pleaded guilty to the misdemeanour assault on Ben Jacobs and was given a 180-day suspended sentence, was required to do community service, pay a fine and attend anger management classes.

A 2017 investigation into the assault included interviews with members of a Fox news crew who said Mr Gianforte had been angry with Mr Jacobs over what he perceived as biased coverage.

Witnesses said that the politician then bodyslammed Mr Jacobs onto the ground before punching him.

Mr Trump made no mention during the rally of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi Arabian journalist who disappeared earlier this month and who Saudi Arabia last night admitted died in its consulate in Istanbul.

"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," said John Mulholland, the editor of the 'Guardian US', in a statement issued on Thursday night, after Mr Trump had finished speaking.

"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."

Irish Independent

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