- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2018

The White House Correspondents’ Association on Friday rebuked President Trump for commending a congressman for assaulting a newspaper reporter and throwing him to the ground.

“All Americans should recoil from the president’s praise for a violent assault on a reporter doing his Constitutionally protected job,” Olivier Knox, president, White House Correspondents’ Association, said in a statement.

He said Mr. Trump showed disrespect for the law and for the press.

“This amounts to the celebration of a crime by someone sworn to uphold our laws and an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has solemnly pledged to defend it. We should never shrug at the president cheerleading for a violent act targeting a free and independent news media,” Mr. Knox wrote.

At a campaign rally Thursday in Montana, Mr. Trump chuckled about Republican Rep. Greg. Gianforte assaulting a reporter last year during a special election campaign.

“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my candidate, he’s my guy,” Mr. Trump said.

In May 2017, at a campaign-volunteer barbecue in Bozeman on the eve of a special election to fill Montana’s sole House seat, Mr. Gianforte slammed to the ground Ben Jacobs, a reporter for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, breaking his glasses.

The then-candidate denied that version of events at first, but after winning the election pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced to a 180-day deferred jail sentence, fined and order to do community service and attend anger-management training.

Mr. Trump has been roundly condemned for making light of the attack.

Prime Minister Theresa May distanced herself from Mr. Trump’s remarks.

“We would always say that any violence or intimidation against a journalist is completely unacceptable,” she told the Guardian.

• Victor Morton and Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.

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