AP NEWS

Eric Trump defends father for praising congressman’s assault on reporter

October 20, 2018

President Trump’s middle son, Eric Trump, has come to his father’s defense over his recent comments applauding a congressman for assaulting a reporter.

The younger Trump dismissed criticism directed at his dad during an appearance on the Fox News channel Friday while discussing the president’s remarks earlier this week praising Rep. Greg Gianforte, Montana Republican, for attacking a reporter last year.

“He wasn’t the guy that body-slammed anybody,” the president’s son said during the segment. “He can have fun. By the way, this is actually exactly why my father won.”

Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, said that he was “body slammed” by Mr. Gianforte while attempting to ask him a question during the lawmaker’s 2017 special-election campaign for the at-large U.S. House seat in Montana.

Mr. Gianforte initially denied the allegations, but the reporter’s claims were quickly corroborated by an audio recording and eyewitness accounts, and the congressman ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge and given a 180-day deferred jail sentence and ordered to pay a $385 fine, complete 40 hours of community service and attend 20 hours of anger management counseling.

“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy,” the president said during a rally Thursday in Missoula, triggering condemnation from First Amendment advocates and others, particularly in light of the president’s previous comments attacking the press, as well as the recent murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“All Americans should recoil from the president’s praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job,” The White House Correspondents’ Association said in a statement Friday.

Addressing the uproar during the Fox News appearance, the younger Trump credited his father’s lack of political correctness with his election in 2016.

“So many people were so sick and tired of the little caged, the perfectly scripted politician who memorized their little soundbite, and they went out there and they had no crowds and they weren’t any fun and they had no charisma, they had no personality,” he said

The president “is un-P.C. and probably won because he’s un-P.C.,” he added.

The comments contrasted sharply with remarks the younger Trump made a day earlier on the same network during a discussion surrounding Eric Holder and the rumored 2020 Democratic presidential contender’s recent controversial remarks about Republicans.

“You know the lack of civility is always something that bothered me,” the president’s son said Thursday. “I mean you look at Eric Holder a couple days ago: ‘When they’re down, we kick them in the head.’ Who says this? I mean who does that”

“Eric Holder wasn’t laughing when he was saying that and kind of joking around, his demeanor was very different,” he added during Friday’s segment. “I think it actually is different. I think it’s totally different. I think the way you actually convey your message resonates.”