Eric Trump insisted on Friday that his father Donald Trump was simply having “fun” when he praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) as “my kind of guy” this week for assaulting a Guardian reporter last year.
The younger Trump said of his dad, “He wasn’t the guy that body-slammed anybody”. He added, “He can have fun. and this is exactly the reason why my father won.”
Last year Gianforte attacked The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, after Jacobs asked him a question about health care, body-slamming and then punching him and breaking his glasses. Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. He was fined and sentenced to community service as well as anger management classes. He also did apologize for the attack.
However, President Donald Trump praised Gianforte’s actions during a rally in Missoula on Thursday. “Any guy that can do a body slam is my kind of guy” Trump told the crowd. He added that he had correctly believed the attack would help Gianforte win the special election to fill Ryan Zinke, the Interior Secretary’s seat.
Trump’s comments drew a lot of condemnation from The Guardian, other journalists and U.S. lawmakers. The president was already facing huge criticism for failing to speak out against the Saudis for their role in Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and killing. The Saudi government has now said that Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul during a physical altercation earlier this month.
Eric Trump said that his dad became president because of the way he talks.
He said that so many people were so sick and tired of the little caged, the perfectly scripted politician who memorized their little sound bite; they weren’t any fun, and had no charisma at all, they had no personality .
The White House Correspondents’ Association issued a statement on Friday condemning Trump’s praise for Gianforte’s assault on Jacobs. The statement said that all Americans should recoil from the president’s praise for a violent assault on a reporter who was doing his Constitutionally protected job.
The Guardian said that Trump’s statement risks encouraging more assaults on reporters.
A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Theresa May, when asked about Trump’s remark on Friday said that any violence or intimidation against a journalist is not at all acceptable.