President Donald Trump celebrated Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) during a rally in Missoula, Montana, on Thursday, calling the lawmaker a “tough cookie” and “my kind of guy” for his assault of a reporter in 2017.
“Never wrestle him. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of…he’s my guy,” he said as supporters cheered him on
“We endorsed Greg really early, but I heard that he had body slammed a reporter. And he was way up…and I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ But then I said, ‘Well wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him,’ and it did…He’s a great guy and a tough cookie,” Trump added.
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
Gianforte was caught on audio “body-slamming” The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs a day before the state held a special election to fill a congressional seat.
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
The lawmaker pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault and was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with an $85 court fee.
Despite the attack, Gianforte won Montana’s at-large congressional seat by six points.