SPONSORED:

Trump's tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 ThuneCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks 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 CollinsCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Two more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers 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 RomneyVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls 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 MurkowskiTrump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Trump administration denies permit for controversial Pebble Mine MORE (R-Alaska) responded: “Oh lord.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 RubioVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls The Memo: GOP mulls its future after Trump MORE (R-Fla.) told CNN.

Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunRepublicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden Meadows meets with Senate GOP to discuss end-of-year priorities McConnell reelected as Senate GOP leader 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 RobertsTrump's controversial Fed nominee stalled after Senate setback Business groups scramble to forge ties amid race for House Agriculture chair Republicans hold on to competitive Kansas House seat 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.