White House: Trump has never encouraged violence

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday said that President Trump has never promoted violence. 

The comment came during a press briefing where Sanders repeatedly defended the president’s tweet attacking MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzenzinski. 

"The president in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary, he was simply pushing back and defending himself," Huckabee Sanders said.

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Trump on Thursday morning questioned why "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" had come to his Florida estate to see him while "bleeding badly from a face-lift."

Brzenzinski and her co-host, Joe Scarborough, have basted Trump repeatedly during their program.

Lawmakers from both parties have denounced Trump’s tweet, with some saying Trump is contributing to a political climate of violence and incivility — a top concern of members after the recent shooting of Republicans at a baseball practice. 

Trump and his allies have faced accusations of promoting violence since the early days of his presidential campaign, when his rallies regularly included clashes between supporters and protesters.  

At one February 2016 rally in Las Vegas, Trump stopped his speech to talk about a protester who was being escorted out. 

"There's a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches. .... We're not allowed to punch back anymore," he said. 

"I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks. ... I'd like to punch him in the face." 

In March, Trump told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would look into paying the legal fees for a supporter accused of punching a man at a North Carolina rally. 

"From what I heard, there was a lot of taunting and a certain finger was placed in the air. Not nice," he said.  

"I've actually instructed my people to look into it, yes." 

But during an interview two days later, he told ABC that "I haven't looked at it yet, and nobody's asked me to pay for fees. I never said I was going to pay for fees." 

Trump later told supporters on a "thank you" tour before his inauguration that "you people were vicious, violent" during the campaign, but were far calmer now that he had won.