House managers use Montana governor's assault in impeachment arguments

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinJan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth House progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Trump allies leaning on his executive privilege claims MORE (D-Md.) on Thursday used the 2017 incident in which now-Montana Gov. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteMontana sees decrease in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations The GOP's moral postmodernism Return to work bonuses were always a scam MORE (R) assaulted a journalist to make the point that former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE has long encouraged violent actions among his supporters.

Raskin was arguing that Trump’s incitement of violence was not isolated to the 2020 election cycle and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that led to his impeachment trial, but could be traced back to when he was running for president as far back as 2015.

“Time and time after he encouraged violence. His supporters listened, and they got the message,” the Maryland Democrat told the Senate. “But it wasn’t just Trump’s encouragement of violence that conditioned his supporters to participate in this insurrection on Jan. 6, it was also his explicit sanctioning of the violence after it took place.”

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As part of his point, Raskin played audio of Gianforte body-slamming a reporter from The Guardian in May 2017, ahead of the special election that gave him Montana's at-large House seat.

“I’m sick and tired of you guys! The last time you came here, you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!” Gianforte says in the audio.

After the recording, Raskin played Trump’s response to the incident, in which he praised Gianforte as “my kind of guy.”

"I heard that he had body-slammed a reporter," Trump said the next year at a Montana rally. "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."

Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault over the incident in June 2017. 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 an $85 court fee.

The audio and video were part of a montage of Trump appearing to sanction or justify violence carried out by his supporters.

Also included in it were the former president saying there are “very fine people” on both sides after the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and video of a Trump supporter assaulting a protester at one of his rallies.