Trump Says He Doesn’t Regret Remarks About Gianforte Assaulting Reporter: The Congressman is a ‘Tough Cookie’

President Donald Trump, to perhaps no one’s surprise, is completely standing by his jovial comments about a Republican congressman’s assault of a reporter.

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) attacking Ben Jacobs became the subject of a Trump riff last night during a rally, in which the President actually said, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.”

The White House Correspondents Association condemned Trump’s remarks, and today, as the President answered questions about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, one reporter asked, “Do you regret bringing up last night at your rally the assault on a reporter by a congressman?”

Trump said he doesn’t, adding, “That was a different world. That was a different league, a different world, no. He’s just a great guy.”

He talked about his “tremendous success” last night and said, “Greg is a tremendous person and he’s a tough cookie and I’ll stay with that.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Praises Rep. Gianforte For Assaulting Reporter: Anyone Who Can Body Slam is ‘My Kind of Guy’

 President Donald Trump praised a Republican congressman who body slammed a reporter last year, saying the lawmaker was “my guy.”

Trump, speaking at a rally in Montana, said Rep. Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter who asked him a question, was a good guy.

“Greg is smart and, by the way, never wrestle him,” the president said, motioning as though he was slamming someone to the ground. “Any guy that can do a body slam — he’s my guy.”

He added Gianforte was a “great guy” and a “tough cookie.”

In May 2017, Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs said Gianforte “body slammed” him for asking a question during an event. Gianforte went on to win Montana’s only U.S. House seat despite the misdemeanor charge and two Montana papers — the Missoulian and the Billings Gazette — rescinding their endorsements.

Gianforte’s campaign initially released a statement claiming Jacobs had “aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face” and instigated the attack. Gianforte later pleaded guilty to an assault charge and apologized for the incident, pledging a $50,000 donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Gianforte is in a battle against Democrat and former state legislator Kathleen Williams in next month’s election.

Guardian Editor John Mulholland denounced the president’s praise for the assault as an attack on the First Amendment.

“The President of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian,” he said in a statement given to CNN. “To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it.”

Mulholland continued, saying the rhetoric was dangerous, especially given the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who is believed to have been killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Mulholland said this “runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world where they often face far greater threats. We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the president will see fit to apologize for them.”

During the rally, Trump talked about learning of the assault and said he initially worried Gianforte would lose his election last year.

“I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible. He’s going to lose the election,”‘ Trump told the crowd. “Then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute. I know Montana pretty well. I think it might help him and it did.'”

Throughout his rally, the president made several remarks about Gianforte’s attack on Jacobs. He cited the incident when he mentioned comments by former Vice President Joe Biden, who said that if he’d known Trump in high school he would have “beat the hell out of” him.

The president challenged Biden during the rally, saying “He’d be down faster than Greg would take him down. He’d be down so fast. Faster than Greg. I’d have to go very fast. I’d have to immediately connect.”

[USA Today]

Media

Trump Talks Fighting Joe Biden: ‘He’d Be Down Faster’ Than Greg Gianforte Could ‘Take Him Down’

President Donald Trump fired off tough words at Joe Biden at a rally on Thursday night, boasting he would knock him down faster than Rep. Greg Gianforte could, the Montana Republican who attacked a reporter during his campaign for Congress.

After praising Gianforte for body slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, a crime for which the lawmaker was just sentenced, Trump brought up his feud with former Vice President Biden.

“How about Sleepy Joe Biden,” Trump said, while listing off his potential 2020 competitors. “Remember he challenged me to a fight.”

“And when I said he wouldn’t last long, he’d be down faster than Greg would take him down,” Trump continued. “He’d be down so fast. Remember? Faster than Greg. I’d have to go very fast. I’d have to immediately connect.”

During the 2016 campaign, Biden criticized Trump’s “disgusting assertion” about groping women on the access Hollywood Tape.

“The press always asks me: don’t I wish I were debating him,” Biden said in a speech. “No, I wish we were in high school—I could take him behind the gym. That’s what I wish.”

Those comments prompted a war of words between the two, with Trump saying Biden would “go down fast and hard, crying all the way.” Biden eventually said he regretted his comments.

[Mediaite]

Trump Warned Evangelical Leaders: If GOP Loses Midterms, Left Will ‘Violently’ Overturn Everything

President Donald Trump hosted evangelical leaders at the White House last night and, apparently rather bluntly, laid out high stakes for the midterm elections.

Despite Trump’s personal background and style, these religious leaders are mostly on the President’s side. Robert Jeffress said last night on Fox News, after the White House event, “We don’t support extramarital affairs, we don’t support hush money payments, but what we do support are these president’s excellent policies.”

Per NBC News, Trump talked to these leaders about being on the same side and laid out the midterm stakes in dramatic fashion:

“The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable,” he said. “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them….This November 6th election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment.”

If the GOP loses, he said, “they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”

The New York Times‘ report on the meeting confirms these quotes, and notes that he also encouraged religious leaders to be vocal ahead of the midterms:

“You have people that preach to almost 200 million people — 150 to, close, depending on which Sunday we are talking about, and beyond Sunday, 100, 150 million people,” he said.

And in addition to the midterms, Trump also took a moment to address an issue he has exploited politically since the campaign days:

“Little thing – Merry Christmas. You couldn’t say Merry Christmas,” Trump said. “I’m telling you — when I started running I used to talk about it and I hate to mention it in August, but I used to talk about it. They don’t say Merry Christmas anymore.”

Trump added, to applause:

“They say merry Christmas a lot right now. It’s all changed. It’s all changed.”

Trump brought up the “war on Christmas” talking point again just last month at a rally.

[Mediaite]

New York judge says Trump ‘authorized and condoned’ his security guards to rough up protesters

Trump security punch protester

A New York State judge has shot down an effort by President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit against his private security guards for allegedly roughing up demonstrators who were protesting outside of Trump Tower months after he announced his presidential run.

The New York Law Journal reports that Bronx Supreme Court Justice Fernando Tapia on Tuesday declined to dismiss the suit filed by protesters who claim they were roughed up by the president’s security team back in 2015.

Specifically, Tapia said that Trump himself “authorized and condoned” his security guards to rough up the protesters, and he specifically cited the president’s statement that “maybe they deserved to be roughed up” on the grounds that “it was absolutely disgusting” what the protesters were doing.

The lawsuit was filed by five Latino activists who claim that they were roughed up by longtime Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and two other men who were employed as part of the then-candidate’s security personnel.

[Raw Story]

Giuliani: Trump Could Have Shot Comey And Still Couldn’t Be Indicted For It

Candidate Donald Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and now President Donald Trump’s lawyer says Trump could shoot the FBI director in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted for it.

“In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday, claiming a president’s constitutional powers are that broad. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.”

Giuliani said impeachment was the initial remedy for a president’s illegal behavior ― even in the extreme hypothetical case of Trump having shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russia investigation rather than just firing him.

“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”

Norm Eisen, the White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the silliness of Giuliani’s claim illustrates how mistaken Trump’s lawyers are about presidential power.

“A president could not be prosecuted for murder? Really?” he said. “It is one of many absurd positions that follow from their argument. It is self-evidently wrong.”

Eisen and other legal scholars have concluded that the constitution offers no blanket protection for a president from criminal prosecution. “The foundation of America is that no person is above the law,” he said. “A president can under extreme circumstances be indicted, but we’re facing extreme circumstances.”

Giuliani’s comments came a day after The New York Times revealed that Trump’s lawyers in January made their case to special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump could not possibly have obstructed justice because he has the ability to shut down any investigation at any time.

“He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired,” Jay Sekulow and John Dowd wrote in a 20-page letter. Dowd has since left Trump’s legal team, replaced by Giuliani.

The letter also admits that Trump “dictated” a statement that was then released by his son, Donald Trump Jr., regarding a meeting held at Trump Tower in June 2016 between top Trump campaign officials and Russians with links to that country’s spy agencies.

That meeting was scheduled after the Russians said they had damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that would be of use to the Trump campaign. The Trump-dictated statement falsely claimed the meeting was primarily about the adoption of Russian children by American families ― the same topic that Trump claimed had been the substance of a conversation he had had with Russian leader Vladimir Putin the previous evening in Germany.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded during the 2016 campaign that not only was Russia interfering in the U.S. election, but was actively trying to help Trump win.

Both Sekulow and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed, falsely, that Trump had not dictated the statement, but had merely offered his son suggestions. Sanders on Sunday referred questions about the matter to Trump’s outside legal team.

Giuliani said Sekulow was misinformed about the Trump Tower meeting, which in any case was not that significant. “In this investigation, the crimes are really silly,” he said, arguing that the firing of Comey last year could not be construed as obstruction of justice because Trump had the right to fire him at any time and for any reason. “This is pure harassment, engineered by the Democrats.”

Comey had been leading the FBI probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence until his dismissal, which led to the appointment of Mueller to take it over. Within two days of the firing, Trump told both NBC News and Russian officials visiting him in the Oval Office that he had done it because of the investigation.

Eisen said Giuliani’s assertion, taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that a mob boss under investigation by the FBI could give Trump a bribe to fire the FBI director, Trump could explain on television that he had done so “because of this Mafia thing,” and then not face criminal charges.

“Well, of course it would be appropriate to initiate a prosecution,” he said. “I think the legally correct answer is, as usual, the opposite of Giuliani’s answer.”

Giuliani, once the mayor of New York City and prior to that the U.S. attorney there, took charge of Trump’s outside legal team in April, saying then that he planned to wrap the whole thing up within a few weeks. Now he said he is not sure when it will end because Mueller is taking too long and not turning over material to Giuliani ― such as a report of what was learned from an FBI informant who made contact with several members of the Trump campaign with links to Russia.

Giuliani said he has so far met with Trump about 10 times and spoken to him on the phone another 40 or so times, totaling at least 75 hours of conversation. “I’m not billing by the hour, otherwise I could tell you exactly,” he joked about the case he has taken on for free.

Mueller’s investigation has so far resulted in the guilty pleas of five people, including three former Trump campaign staffers, and the indictment of 14 other people and three companies. That total includes 13 Russians, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and the Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” that was used to create and disseminate propaganda to help Trump win.

A related investigation by Giuliani’s former U.S. attorney’s office is examining the dealings of longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. A former business partner has agreed to cooperate in that probe and plead to New York state charges.

[Huffington Post]

Protesters Clash With Trump Supporters Outside Michigan Rally

President Donald Trump’s supporters clashed with a group of protestors outside of his Saturday night rally in Washington Township, MI — leading to police on horses and ATVs separating both raucous groups.

CNN’s Dianne Gallagher caught the commotion on live television while reporting on the president’s event. Footage shows Trump supporters taunting the protestors while giving the middle finger. “I apologize for some of the gestures being made on camera at this point,” the reporter said as she moved through the crowd.

Both parties began confronting each other outside of the rally just before the president took to the stage. Some supporters of the president were turned away from the stadium, which appeared to be at full capacity according to CNN, and invited to watch the speech on a nearby outdoor screening area. They then began engaging with the nearby protestors, who brought signs with messages critical of the president, as they walked past.

Trump appeared to be speaking directly to his base at the Saturday night event, condemning democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D—NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D—CA), slamming illegal immigration and touting the Republican tax bill. The president’s rallies typically also feature clusters of demonstrators outside of the stadiums, though it’s rare a confrontation is caught on air.

Watch a clip of the tense exchanges above via CNN.

[Mediaite]

 

Trump Threatens Joe Biden, Saying He ‘Would Go Down Fast and Hard’ if They Fought

President Trump threatened former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday, saying in a tweet that Mr. Biden “would go down fast and hard” if the two men ever physically fought. Mr. Trump was responding to Mr. Biden’s comments on Tuesday about how, if he was in high school, Mr. Biden would “beat the hell” out of Mr. Trump for disrespecting women.

Mr. Biden, speaking at a University of Miami rally to combat sexual assault, said, “A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,’ ” referring to an Access Hollywood audio recording in which Mr. Trump is heard boasting about kissing and groping women without their consent. Mr. Biden said when he was asked if he would like to debate Mr. Trump, he said, “If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.”

The back-and-forth blustering between two men in their 70s comes a day after Mr. Trump criticized two of his predecessors, Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, for not being able to improve relations with Russia. And Mr. Trump is facing revived sexual misconduct accusations after a New York state judge ruled that a defamation lawsuit from a woman who has said Mr. Trump made unwanted sexual advances could go forward.

Mr. Biden, who has been a longtime advocate for anti-sexual assault policies, has been on the road lately, campaigning for Democrats.

Earlier this month, he campaigned for a Democrat in western Pennsylvania who won a special congressional election in a district that had previously been considered Trump country. Mr. Trump campaigned for the Republican candidate who lost. Democrats see the loss as an indicator of a potential wave of Democratic wins in the upcoming midterm elections.

There has been talk of a possible 2020 presidential run, which could pit Mr. Biden, 75, directly against Mr. Trump, 71.

Mr. Biden considered running in 2016, but decided not to because of the death of his son. At the time, Mr. Trump said he thought Mr. Biden made the right choice for his family and that he would rather run against Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump has previously tweeted about Mr. Biden while he was vice president, commenting on Mr. Biden’s gaffes. In 2012, Mr. Trump said he felt sorry for Mr. Biden’s communications team.

[The New York Times]

Trump: ‘I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind’

President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday that he is “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind.”

The president made the statement as the White House continues to deal with a scandal involving former top aide Rob Porter, whose ex-wives have accused him of domestic violence.

“I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that,” Trump said Wednesday after reporters pressed him on whether he believed the women’s accusations.

It marked the first time Trump directly addressed the notion of domestic violence during the Porter imbroglio, which has thrust the White House into chaos over the past week. On Friday, Trump defended Porter, stressing that the former staff secretary has claimed he is innocent of the claims.

“We wish him well,” Trump said of Porter last week. “I think you also have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday he’s innocent.”

Porter wasn’t the only former White House aide to quit over domestic abuse allegations last week. Speechwriter David Sorensen resigned Friday after The Washington Post reported that Sorensen’s ex-wife accused him of emotional and physical abuse. Sorensen, in turn, denied the allegations and said his former wife actually victimized him.

[CNBC]

Reality

After ten days of dodging direct questions on where he stood on domestic violence and throwing his support behind Rob Porter, who beat his wives, Trump “heroically” says the right thing.

Trump Retweets GIF of Him Hitting Clinton With Golf Ball

President Donald Trump retweeted an edited video Sunday morning that showed him swinging a golf club and appearing to hit his former presidential campaign rival Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.

The animated GIF image Trump retweeted spliced together footage of Trump taking a swing on a golf course with footage of Clinton tripping and falling as she boarded a plane in 2011 as secretary of state. The footage is edited to make it appear as though Clinton is hit in the back with a golf ball before her fall.

The tweet revealed a President still reverting to his old social media habits, namely, those likely to earn him quick criticism, less than two months after retired Gen. John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff.

While Kelly has not sought to stop Trump from tweeting, he has encouraged the President to allow him to vet the tweets before posting them — a request Trump has sometimes acquiesced to.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday about the President’s tweet and whether Kelly was aware of it.

The tweet, which came as Trump prepares to head to New York for a critical round of powerhouse diplomacy with world leaders at the United Nations, followed a week during which Clinton reemerged in the spotlight as she promoted her new book, “What Happened,” about the 2016 campaign, reviving her fiercest criticisms of Trump and his supporters and reigniting the debate about her stunning, unanticipated loss.

Trump slammed Clinton over her new book earlier this week too, tweeting that she “blames everybody (and every thing) but herself for her election loss.”

Trump’s Sunday morning Twitter post was one of more than a half-dozen supporters’ tweets the President retweeted Sunday before 8:30 a.m.

Those other tweets included an image predicting Trump would win every state for reelection in 2020, another showing Trump hauling US companies that have outsourced manufacturing abroad and a tweet claiming that “only true Americans can see that president Trump is making America great.”

[CNN]

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