During a rally on Thursday night in Montana, President Trump cheered Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, who body-slammed a reporter last year.
“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy,” Trump said at the event as supporters cheered him on. “I had heard that he body-slammed a reporter … and he was way up, and I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ Then I said, ‘I know Montana pretty well,’ and I said I think it might help him. And it did.”
The remarks came amid a nationwide debate over “civility” in politics, as Republicans claim Democrats are committing violence against conservatives and far-right activists continue to commit violent acts of their own.
Just before he praised Gianforte, Trump said, “The Democrats have truly turned into an angry mob, bent on destroying anything or anyone in their path,” adding, “Democrats create mobs. Republicans create jobs.”
Here’s the video of President Trump on Gianforte body slamming Ben Jacobs:
Trump on Rep. Greg Gianforte, who body slammed a reporter in 2017: "Any guy who can do a body slam, he’s my kinda guy. I shouldn’t say that.” pic.twitter.com/sMI4pizfEG
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 19, 2018
President Trump, who has held a series of campaign rallies for candidates ahead of next month’s midterm elections, brought Gianforte on stage during the event but warned his supporters that they should “never wrestle” the lawmaker. Gianforte was caught on audio “body-slamming” Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs a day before the state held a special election to fill a congressional seat.
Ben Jacob had been attempting to ask Gianforte a question about Republican health care legislation at an election eve event.
At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”.
Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken.
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
Gianforte won the election but later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. He was fined $300, given a six-month deferred sentence and ordered to perform community service, among other penalties. He also donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists and apologized to Jacobs.
President Trump was in Rome at the time of the assault. He said that he thought Gianforte’s act might hurt him in the election, but added, “Then I said, well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him. And it did.”