Gianforte calls Trump’s CNN wrestling tweet a 'distraction'

Gianforte calls Trump’s CNN wrestling tweet a 'distraction'
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Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), who gained a national profile after assaulting a reporter during his run for Congress this year, thinks President Trump’s tweet featuring a doctored video of him metaphorically wrestling CNN to the ground was inappropriate.

But Gianforte offered a less-than-forceful disapproval of Trump’s weekend tweet.

In an interview with MTPR posted on Wednesday, Gianforte called the tweet a “distraction” from the agenda he thinks Trump and Republicans in Congress should be focusing on.

“Would I have sent this tweet? I’m not sure. But the reality is, the administration is doing good work. I would probably categorize this particular tweet as a distraction,” Gianforte said.

Gianforte avoided directly answering a follow-up question from MTPR reporter Eric Whitney on whether he interpreted Trump’s tweet as promoting violence against reporters.

“I would just say, I think the focus ought to be on the business of the people. And I would characterize — because we’re even talking about this, and not talking about some of the meatier issues and what the American people and Montanans want us to talk about, I would characterize it as a distraction,” Gianforte said.

Trump’s Sunday tweet escalated his recent attacks on the media with an edited video of him tackling and then pummeling a man with CNN's logo superimposed over his face. The original video is taken from Trump's appearance at WWE's WrestleMania in 2007.

Gianforte pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor assault after he attacked Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on the night before Montana’s special election to fill the state’s lone House seat.

Just more than a week before taking the oath of office, Gianforte was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling, along with a $385 fine.

Gianforte had previously pledged to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists while issuing a full apology to Jacobs.

Jacobs had been trying to ask Gianforte for his opinion on the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House GOP’s healthcare legislation.

Gianforte then attacked Jacobs, breaking his glasses in the process. A recording of the incident shows Gianforte yelling at Jacobs to “get the hell out of here!”

A Gianforte campaign spokesman initially blamed the incident on ”aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.” But Gianforte apologized to Jacobs a day later at his victory rally upon winning the special election.