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

President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE on Thursday joked at a campaign rally in Montana that Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteJobs report shows more stimulus isn't the answer Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing 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.”