Trump also heaped praise on Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after attacking a reporter in 2017. "Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my kind of guy," Trump said. "He's a great guy, tough cookie."
More on Trump and Gianforte:
Op-Ed Columnist NYT:
"In May of 2017, Greg Gianforte — then a Republican businessman running for Montana’s lone seat in the House of Representatives — got angry at a journalist who was asking him questions about health-care policy. Gianforte then picked up the journalist, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian, and slammed him to the ground.
“Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” said Alicia Acuna, a Fox News reporter who witnessed the attack. “Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’” (You can listen to an audio tape of the incident.)
Police later charged Gianforte with assault, and he pleaded guilty. A judge ordered him “to report to the Gallatin County jail to have his mugshot and fingerprints taken,” as Whitney Berne of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle explains. Gianforte’s punishment included a six-month deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger-management counseling, $385 in payment to the court and $4,464.97 in restitution to Jacobs.
The voters of Montana elected Gianforte anyway, and last night — at a rally in Montana — President Trump was full of praise for Gianforte. Specifically, Trump praised Gianforte for the assault. “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy,” the president said.
Since he began running for president in 2015, Trump has tried to discredit almost any independent source of information he did not like — be it from journalists, federal judges, the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Congressional Budget Office or scientists. Trump has also repeatedly encouraged or praised violence committed by people he considers allies against people he does not.
Trump is not — thank goodness — an autocratic ruler of the United States. But he is behaving like one. Encouraging violence against political opponents is no joke when it comes from the president. It is a classic tool of autocracy. And it’s one more sign that Trump does not accept fundamental tenets of democracy, including the rule of law.
The president, writes The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin, “tonight celebrates an assault on a reporter in Montana at the same time as his Administration tries to minimize the murder of a reporter in Turkey. His words matter, and they reveal his character.”