Trump gleefully praised — and even acted out — a violent assault on a journalist.
Trump was in standard, revolting form at a Montana rally Thursday night, when he praised a fellow Republican for assaulting a reporter last year, even as he and his administration try to cover up the likely murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the government of Saudi Arabia.
During a rally in Montana, Trump briefly shared the stage with the state's Republican congressman, Greg Gianforte, who infamously assaulted a reporter on the eve of the special election that sent him to Congress.
After Gianforte left the stage, Trump praised him for his brevity, then joked, "By the way, never wrestle him. You understand that? Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my kind of ... he's my guy."
Trump gleefully acted out Gianforte's body slam as he heaped praise.
The crowd laughed and cheered as Trump described being in Rome when he "heard that [Gianforte] body-slammed a reporter," and pointed to the press at the event as he egged the crowd on.
Trump then joked that the assault probably helped Gianforte in Montana.
"He's a great guy, tough cookie," Trump said.
Explicitly praising someone for assaulting a journalist is despicable on its own, but doing so even as the world reels from the grisly details emerging about the likely murder of Khashoggi is unconscionable.
Despite mounting evidence that Khashoggi was tortured, killed, and dismembered at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Trump has parroted Saudi Arabia's denials and even provided a "rogue killers" theory of his own.
And Trump has made only the slightest pretense of worrying about the message that Khashoggi's murder sends to the rest of the world, paying lip service to being disturbed that a reporter was targeted.
But Trump's actions at this rally show the hollowness of any concern he or his administration might pretend to express about the violence that likely ended Khashoggi's life. And by re-enacting the assault on another reporter, Trump is encouraging the next act of violence against the press.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.