President Donald Trump defended Republican Greg Gianforte at a rally in Montana on Thursday, after the congressman pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter last year.
“Any guy that can do a body slam — he’s my kind of guy,” Trump said at the campaign rally, according to the Associated Press. Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after an altercation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.
Jacobs alleged that Gianforte “body slammed” him in response to a question about healthcare, breaking his glasses. The confrontation occurred in May 2017, one day before Gianforte won a special election for Montana’s sole seat in the House of Representatives.
Gianforte initially blamed Jacobs for provoking the attack, but he later apologized and promised to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Paul Ryan admonished Gianforte at the time, saying the altercation was “wrong and should not have happened.”
Gianforte is fighting off a challenge from former state legislator Kathleen Williams in November’s midterm election.
On Thursday, Trump praised Gianforte as a “great guy and a tough cookie.” Trump added that he predicted the assault would actually help Gianforte’s election bid last year, according to The Hill. “I know Montana pretty well,” Trump said.