Trump recently promoted a conspiracy theory suggesting a 75-year-old protester attacked by police was faking it.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday defended Trump's smear of a 75-year-old peace activist who was brutalized by police, saying Trump's baseless accusation that the man was a member of antifa and possibly faked his injuries was "legitimate."
"The president was raising questions based on a report that he saw. They are questions that need to be asked," McEnany said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends."
The man had "some very questionable tweets, some profanity-laden tweets about police officers," she said.
Trump's tweet questioning the attack on Martin Gugino caused an uproar from Democrats and brought mostly silence from GOP lawmakers, many of whom claimed not to have seen the tweet and refused to even look at it when presented with a printed copy by reporters.
"This is disgusting," Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) tweeted in response to Trump's attack. "We've all seen the video of a Martin Gugino being shoved by police & bleeding from his head b/c of it. It doesn't matter if he's 75 or 25, that's not how police should treat protesters. And this tweet below — is how the President enables police violence."
There is no evidence that Gugino, who remains hospitalized in critical condition after he was pushed to the ground by police and hit his head on the pavement, was a member of antifa, as Trump alleged.
There is also no evidence that Gugino faked his injuries, as Trump alleged. Video of the incident shows Gugino lying motionless on the ground as blood pools around his head.
A lawyer for Gugino said in a statement that he has no idea why Trump would make such a baseless allegation.
"No one from law enforcement has ever even suggested anything [other than that Gugino was peaceful] so we're at a loss to understand why the President of the United States would make such a dark, dangerous and untrue accusation against him," Gugino's lawyer said.
Trump's made his accusation apparently after watching right-wing outlet One America News spin a conspiracy theory about the events in Buffalo.
The conspiracy theory is that antifa, a movement of people fighting fights fascism, is behind instances of violence and looting seen at anti-racism protests. Republican lawmakers have helped amplify that message.
However, NPR reported that none of the 51 arrests made by federal law enforcement at the protests were of people tied to the antifa movement.
Some of the arrested individuals were right-wing extremists.
In Nevada, for example, three right-wing extremists who are part of the "boogaloo" movement of people aiming to incite a civil war in the United States were arrested after allegedly trying to provoke violence at an anti-racism rally.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.