The Montana Republican who was charged with assault last month after body-slamming a reporter has weighed in on President Trump’s CNN tweet, calling it a “distraction” from the administration’s “good work.”
“Would I have sent this tweet? I’m not sure. But the reality is, the administration is doing good work. I would probably categorize this particular tweet as a distraction,” Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte said in an interview with Montana public radio station MTPR on Wednesday.
The tweet in question was sent by Trump last week. It included a doctored clip of Trump punching a man with a CNN logo superimposed over his face. The clip was from an April 2007 WWE wrestling match.
Trump critics argued that the clip promoted violence against journalists. At a press conference in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday, Trump said that he believes CNN took the tweet “too seriously.”
Gianforte pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor assault after he roughed up Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs prior to a campaign event. He has since apologized to Jacobs and donated $50,000 to a journalism non-profit group.
“Some people interpreted the tweet as promoting violence against reporters. Did you interpret it that way?” Gianforte was asked during the MTPR interview.
“I would just say, I think the focus ought to be on the business of the people. And I would characterize – because we’re even talking about this, and not talking about some of the meatier issues and what the American people and Montanans want us to talk about, I would characterize it as a distraction,” said Gianforte.