Trump praises congressman who assaulted reporter

President Donald Trump and Montana Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale at a July 5 campaign rally in Great Falls MT

"And by the way, never wrestle him, you understand that? I think it might help him, and it did", Trump said to applause from the 4,000 rally attendees.

The assault happened while Gianforte was campaigning to become a Montana congressman; he won the election the day after the assault. Contending that the act of aggression helped Gianforte win his congressional seat, Trump said, "Any guy that can do a body slam...he's my guy". Gianforte admitted Jacobs had done nothing wrong.

Trump's remarks at a rally in Montana come amid an worldwide outcry over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who has been missing since entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, whom the president has said is likely dead.

Gianforte pleaded guilty in June 2017 to misdemeanor assault after he was accused of body-slamming journalist Ben Jacobs at a campaign event.

The comment comes at the same time as the administration responds to the disappearance and apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. "I know Montana pretty well", Trump said.

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"This will be an election of (Justice Brett) Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order and common sense", Trump said.

Trump recalled that he was in Rome at the time of the incident, and he shared his initial thoughts: "This was awful".

Despite the negative publicity, Gianforte went on to defeat Democrat Rob Quist by six percentage points in the Republican-leaning district.

The Guardian US editor John Mulholland took aim at Trump's remarks.

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.


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