For the second time in his visits to Montana, President Donald Trump made light of an incident in which Republican congressman Greg Gianforte body slammed a British reporter.
At a campaign rally at the Missoula Airport Thursday evening, Trump said, “Never wrestle him. You understand. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam he's my kind of.... he's my guy.”
The incident involving Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs happened on the eve of a special election in May 2017.
Jacobs said Gianforte body-slammed him and broke his glasses after he asked Gianforte a question about healthcare. Gianforte initially denied the accusations, before pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault charges.
Gianforte is facing Democrat Kathleen Williams in the upcoming midterm election.
In an interview with ABC FOX Montana earlier this week, Williams told reporters she respects the role of the media on all levels
“When I’m asked ‘is there anything else you want to add,’ which is usually where typical politicians… get their other talking points in, I always take that time to say 'thank you' to the journalist for what they do,” said Williams. “In this day and age I don't know where we'd be if there weren't journalists that were working to research stories, to tell stories, to get facts out there. And whether it's local, state or national or international we all need to ensure we're getting good information.”
Trump's Thursday comments on Gianforte are drawing international criticism Friday. British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the remarks as "completely unacceptable."