Trump praises Republican congressman for body slamming journalist

A Secret Service agent stands guard as President Trump speaks at Alumni Coliseum in Richmond Ky. on Oct. 13

Trump said that Gianforte had "nothing to be embarrassed about", imitating the action of slamming someone to the ground. But as he left Washington to travel to the rally Thursday, Trump warned of "very severe" consequences for the apparent killing.

"Never wrestle him. Never".

"Not just once but twice tonight the president is making jokes about assaulting reporters while the whole world is demanding answers about the murder of a journalist who died in the most gruesome and vicious way possible", Acosta said. "But I had heard he body slammed a reporter".

Cheered on by the crowd, Trump added that he didn't think the episode would hurt Gianforte with Montana voters - "I think it might help him", Trump recalled thinking.

Mr Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour assault charge in June 2017 and said in an apology letter that he alone was responsible for the attack.

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Trump's comment was a reference to when Gianforte body-slammed a reporter in 2017 who got up in his face. "To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the first amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it", the Guardian's US editor John Mulholland said in a statement.

He was ordered to pay $385 (£304), complete 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counselling. "I think it might help him.' And it did", Trump said.

Trump's comments on Thursday night prompted some criticism, including from Jacobs' publication. "To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it".

Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia and its leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reportedly feared that his native county would retaliate against him.

In a statement on the Guardian's website, John Mulholland, the newspaper's US editor, said "to celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it".

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