Donald Trump applauds Republican congressman Greg Gianforte for 'body-slamming' reporter

Arturo Kim
October 19, 2018

US President Donald Trump has praised a Republican congressman who assaulted a journalist a year ago with a "body slam", referring to him as "my guy".

After praising Mr Gianforte, Mr Trump then mimicked a person being thrown forcefully to the ground.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in June 2017 for assaulting Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian. The president reminded his supporters of the incident during his rally in Montana on Thursday.

He recalled hearing the story when he was overseas and admitted that at first, he anxious that Gianforte might lose the election.

Cheered on by the crowd, Trump added that he didn't think the episode would hurt Gianforte with Montana voters - "I think it might help him", Trump recalled thinking. The judge called Gianforte's actions "totally unacceptable" but gave him a six-month deferred sentence. "He's my guy", Trump declared, doing his best impression of a wrestling move to raucous applause and cheers from his Montana audience. "There's nothing to be embarrassed about", Trump said.

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Trump went back to the theme later in his remarks, as he mused that he could beat up former Vice President Joe Biden - who he referred to as "Sleepy Joe".

"Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs", he said at one point.

Mr Gianforte, who attended the rally with the President, is up for re-election in November and faces former state legislator Kathleen Williams.

His remarks praising Mr Gianforte come amid an worldwide furore over the apparent assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who allegedly had his fingers cut off and was decapitated inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago.

Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia and its leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reportedly feared that his native county would retaliate against him. Trump said on Thursday that it "certainly looks" as though Khashoggi is dead.

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