Trump at Montana rally: I knew 'body slam' of reporter would help Gianforte

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump in new ad: 'The death toll is still rising.' 'The president is playing golf' Brazil surpasses Russia with second-highest coronavirus case count in the world Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' MORE on Thursday joked at a campaign rally in Montana that Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteLawmakers question why dead people are getting coronavirus checks Coronavirus response could be key factor in tight governor's races Poll shows Daines, Bullock neck and neck in Montana Senate race MORE (R-Mont.) assaulting a reporter for The Guardian in 2017 helped him win his election.

“Never wrestle him. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of ... he’s my guy,” he said in Missoula.

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“We endorsed Greg really early, but I heard that he had body-slammed a reporter. And he was way up … and I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ But then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him,’ and it did … He’s a great guy and a tough cookie,” Trump added.

The assault occurred the night before the election after a significant number of votes had already been cast during early voting or via absentee ballots.

Gianforte pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault and was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with an $85 court fee. He won Montana’s at-large congressional seat by 6 points.

Trump’s acrimonious relationship with the press is well known, with the president having dubbed mainstream media outlets as peddlers of “fake news.”