Trump's tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district 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 ThuneDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Trump says he'll accept nomination from either White House or Gettysburg Meadows says he wants Trump nomination speech 'miles and miles away' from White House 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 CollinsProgressive Jewish group endorses Biden Poll: Gideon leads Collins by 8 points in Maine Senate race The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement 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 RomneyDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Trump slams 'rogue' Sasse after criticism of executive actions From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters 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 MurkowskiBipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS 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 RubioDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Lincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong MORE (R-Fla.) told CNN.

Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts 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 RobertsMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill 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.