Trump's tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash 

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE’s tweet about a 75-year-old Buffalo protester is getting pushback from Republican senators.

Trump on Tuesday floated that an elderly man pushed to the ground by police in Buffalo, N.Y., during a protest over the police killing of George Floyd could be a "set up” and an “ANTIFA provocateur.”

The tweet sparked immediate backlash from GOP senators and caused broader headaches as lawmaker after lawmaker was approached by reporters with a copy of the tweet.


"It's a serious accusation which should only be made with facts and evidence, and I haven't seen any yet,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits Democrats break COVID-19 impasse with deal on jobless benefits MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Asked if the president should stop making the accusation, he added: “Well, I think that’s a given.”

Asked about the tweet, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy MORE (R-Maine) told reporters that she thought “it would best if the president did not comment on issues that are before the courts.”

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDemocratic centrists flex power on Biden legislation Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits MORE (R-Utah) told reporters that he thought it was “shocking."

“I won’t dignify it with any further comment,” he added.

Asked about the tweet, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships MORE (R-Alaska) responded: “Oh lord.”


“It just makes no sense that we’re fanning the flames right at this time, this is not good,” she added. 

Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault after video went viral of them shoving Martin Gugino after he approached them during the protest. The 75-year-old staggered and fell backward, hitting his head on the concrete and lying motionless as blood pooled on the sidewalk and the officers walked away.

The officers, Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe, have pleaded not guilty in the incident. Gugino is still in the hospital.

The president cited right-wing One America News Network (OANN) in making the incendiary claim, which comes amid a national debate over police brutality.

"Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment," Trump tweeted, appearing to refer to a report on OANN.

"I watched, he fell harder than was pushed," the president added. "Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?"

Several GOP senators declined to comment on the tweet.

“I didn't see it, you're telling me about it, I don't read Twitter, I only write on it,” Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China DeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk MORE (R-Fla.) told CNN.

Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunSenate braces for 'God-awful,' 'stupid' session ahead of COVID-19 relief vote Murthy vows to focus on mental health effects of pandemic if confirmed as surgeon general GOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment' MORE (R-Ind.) told reporters that he had “no real response.”

“I don’t think it should be surprising in general because he tweets a lot so I don’t know how significant this one tweet is gonna be,” he added.

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsLobbying world Pat Roberts joins lobbying firm weeks after Senate retirement Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Kan.) said he hasn’t seen the tweet. When a reporter replied that they had a copy to show them, he replied: “I know.”

“I'd just as soon not,” he added.

Updated at 7:07 p.m.