Journalists: 'Americans Should Recoil' From Trump's Celebration Of Reporter Assault

President Donald Trump - known for his contentious relationship with the press - joked Thursday that GOP Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte's assault of a British reporter helped the lawmaker win his 2017 special election. "He's a great guy, tough cookie".

Mr. Gianforte will run against Democratic rival Kathleen Williams next month again as every seat in the House of Representatives is up for grabs.

Mr Trump celebrated the episode as he introduced Montana Representative Greg Gianforte at a rally in Missoula, Montana, on Thursday evening (Oct 18). "Any guy that can do a body slam - he's my kind of, he's my guy".

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Trump said he originally thought the assault - which took place on the eve of his election - might hurt Gianforte's chances.

The President said he was in Rome with other world leaders when he heard about what had happened. And he was way up...and I said, 'Oh, this is awful, he's going to lose the election'.

He then went on to concede that "I shouldn't say this" before continuing to declare "there's nothing to be embarrassed about".

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"I don't think the President should be praising that", Santorum told CNN on Friday.

Though Gianforte won the election, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge and was fined.

The reporter agreed not to sue Gianforte if he wrote a letter of apology and donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"The president of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian".

"In Washington he talks like he's from Montana and he votes like he's Nancy Pelosi", stated President Trump.

Journalism watchdog groups, including Reporters Without Borders, have downgraded the U.S.in annual press freedom rankings, saying Trump's frequent press-bashing hyperbole, including calling reporters "the enemy of the people", and "fake news", are stoking violence against journalists.

  • Sonia Alvarado