Vox / YouTube Donald Trump  s conflicts of...
Vox / YouTube

Some days it seems the guy squatting in the White House ought to be named Donald Gotti. Of course, his praise Thursday in Missoula, Montana, of a right-wing congressman for attacking a reporter last year was just a joke. That at least will likely be the spin from the White House and the lickspittle right-wing pundits Friday.

You might remember that in 2017, The Guardian’s reporter Ben Jacobs asked Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte a question about the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of Trump’s health care repeal bill, the AHCA or American Health Care Act. Gianforte said he was “sick of this” and assaulted Jacobs, grabbing him by the neck, body-slamming him to the floor, breaking his glasses, and punching him repeatedly. Gianforte subsequently lied about what had happened, claiming Jacobs had grabbed him and they had both fallen to the floor. An audio recording and other reporters who witnessed the attack supported Jacobs’ version.

Gianforte got off easy on a charge of misdemeanor assault, being sentenced originally to four days in jail. But this was later switched to 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management, a 180-day deferred sentence, and a $300 fine and an $85 court fee. He apologized to Jacobs to whom he paid $4,646.97 to cover his medical costs and promised him a sit-down interview at some point, which he later refused.

As a result of the assault, several newspapers that had supported Gianforte for Montana’s single at-large congressional seat withdrew their endorsements. But he won the election by six points anyway. 

Thursday, as part of a three-day run of campaign rallies, Trump gave Gianforte a thumbs-up for the assault, suggesting that punching Jacobs may have helped him win:

“Never wrestle him. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of…he’s my guy. We endorsed Greg really early, but I heard that he had body slammed a reporter. And he was way up …and I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ But then I said, ‘Well wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him,’ and it did … He’s a great guy and a tough cookie.”

Ho, ho, ho. Trump normalizes physical attacks on the media, on dissenters, on protesters at his rallies, and he gets laughs and huzzahs for it. One of these days, these incitements to violence of his are going to produce a big body count. And that’s no joke.

The Guardian asked for an apology. Uh-huh. As if…

Addendum from Yellowstone Public Radio:

Montana’s Republican Senator, Steve Daines, also spoke at the rally. The Mountain West News Bureau asked him about the President’s comments. Here is that exchange:

Nate Hegyi: “I was hoping to get your response to the President congratulating Gianforte for body-slamming a reporter.”

Steve Daines: “This was an event that was historic, the third time a President has been here I think since Harry Truman.”

NH: “That wasn’t an answer to my question, sorry sir.”

Daines then excused himself and continued walking away.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

1 COMMENT

  1. tRump’s enhanced endorsement of Gianforte is thinly veiled dog-whistle for his endorsement of Khashoggi’s murderers!

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