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

President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE on Thursday joked at a campaign rally in Montana that Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteGrowing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Ducey to lead Republican governors GOP holds line in state legislatures, dealing blow to Democrats 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.”