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UK's May condemns Trump for praise of lawmaker who assaulted reporter

UK's May condemns Trump for praise of lawmaker who assaulted reporter

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday condemned President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE for praising Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianfortePutting the president's pharmacy vaccine plan into action The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, McConnell agree on vaccines, clash over infrastructure Montana governor tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Mont.) for his 2017 assault of a reporter from the British newspaper The Guardian.

Trump, at a campaign rally in Montana on Thursday, joked that Gianforte's assault on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs had helped him when his at-large House special election in May 2017.

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“Never wrestle him. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of … he’s my guy,” he said at a Montana campaign rally on Thursday as the crowd cheered.

“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. 

In response to those comments, May's spokesperson said they think violence against reporters is "completely unacceptable."

"He obviously made comments at a political rally and those are for him but more generally we would always say that violence or intimidation against a journalist is completely unacceptable,” a spokesperson for the prime minister said in a statement to the press on Friday.

 

The Guardian also slammed the president for making light of the assault on Thursday night. 

"The President of the United States tonight applauded the assault of an American journalist working for The Guardian," the newspaper's editor, John Mulholland, wrote in a statement obtained by The Washington Post.

Mulholland added such statements might only inflame future violence against journalists following the disappearance and suspected death of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago.

"We hope decent people will denounce these remarks and that the president will see fit to apologize for them," the editor added.

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

Gianforte was running for the congressional seat vacated when Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeGuilfoyle named as national chair of Greitens' Senate campaign in Missouri Greitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview MORE joined the Trump administration. He won the seat by 6 points.

The lawmaker pleaded 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 a $85 court fee. 

“I am sorry for what I did and the unwanted notoriety this has created for you. I take full responsibility," Gianforte previously said in an apology statement to Jacobs.