Eric Trump defends father for praising assault of a reporter: 'He can have fun'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE's son Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpTrump DC hotel did not request rent relief from GSA The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug Ignorance as strength: The three pillars of the Trump presidency MORE on Friday defended his father for praising 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.) physically assaulting a journalist. 

"He wasn’t the guy who body-slammed anyone. He can have fun," Trump said on Fox News when asked about his father's comments at a rally on Thursday and the subsequent criticism it has engendered. 

“By the way, this is actually exactly why my father won. Because so many people are so sick and tired of the perfectly scripted politician who memorized their little soundbite and they went out there and they had no crowds and they weren’t any fun and they had no charisma, they had no personality," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump then added that his father is not politically correct and probably won because of that reason, before noting that he was joking about the incident. 

His comments come a day after President Trump lauded Gianforte for body-slamming Ben Jacobs, a reporter from The Guardian, last year, adding that it probably helped him win the 2017 special election. 

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

The comment sparked widespread criticism from the press, with The Guardian releasing a statement condemning the president for "celebrating" the attack on one of its journalists. 

The White House Correspondents’ Association also issued a firm rebuke of the president, saying in a statement on Friday that Trump's words amounted to "the celebration of a crime by someone sworn to uphold our laws and an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has solemnly pledged to defend it."

"We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media,” the statement added.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in June 2017 for the incident involving him and a journalist. He was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with a $85 court fee.