"Any guy that can do a body-slam, he's my guy," President Trump shouted to a cheering Montana audience Thursday night as he simulated slamming someone to the ground, then noting, "I shouldn't say that." Trump was discussing Rep. Greg Gianforte, who assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last year during the special election for the House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, a misdemeanor assault to which he pleaded guilty and completed community service and an anger management class. Trump said after the incident, he feared Gianforte had blown his chance at the congressional seat. "I said, 'Oh, this is terrible, he's gonna lose the election,'" Trump recounted. "Then I said, 'Well, wait a minute—I know Montana pretty well. I think it might help him.' And it did." Trump was in Big Sky Country stumping for Matt Rosendale in his race for Democrat Jon Tester's Senate seat.
Reaction came quickly: John Mulholland, US editor of the Guardian, put out a statement after the rally blasting Trump's words as "an attack on the First Amendment," asking for an apology and adding, "In the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world." ABC News reports on what the Toronto Star's Daniel Dale calls the "most significant" and "truly horrible" moment in the rally: "The president is gleefully applauding violence against a journalist." Trump also praised Gianforte as "smart" and then advised the crowd to "never wrestle him." (Trump seems to acknowledge Khashoggi is dead.)