Trump celebrated the episode as he introduced Montana Representative Greg Gianforte at a rally in Missoula, Montana, on Thursday evening.
President Donald Trump on Thursday heaped praise on a USA congressman from Montana who body-slammed a reporter during a campaign for a special election in 2017.
"By the way, never wrestle him", Trump said.
Trump said "Any guy that can do a body slam. he's my guy", at a rally in Montana. Given that Trump's under fire for his reaction to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, you'd think he might take it easy on the "violence against reporters" angle.
While Trump appeared to be making light of the situation, the White House Correspondents' Association didn't find his act amusing. "During a week when the world is riveted in horror at the brutal murder of a journalist by the Saudi government, Trump's remarks are a chilling reminder that United States global leadership on press freedom has collapsed utterly under the President's watch".
"An alarming number of journalists have faced serious physical assault", Alexandra Ellerbeck, the North America program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement to HuffPost.
Trump famously appeared at a variety of WWE events prior to his political career.
USA cautious over Khashoggi as new claims emerge
According to a Tuesday New York Times report , an unnamed official told the outlet that "the timing of this was no coincidence". Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post , disappeared after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this month.
Gianforte attacked Jacobs on the eve of a special election in March 2017 after Jacob asked then-candidate Gianforte about the Congressional Budget Office's report on the Republican health-care bill.
In the case of Rep Gianforte, witnesses including members of a Fox News crew say Rep Gianforte became enraged over what he perceived as biased coverage before body-slamming Jacobs, throwing him to the ground and punching him.
Gianforte, who did not fight the charges, was sentenced to community service and fined $385. But the judge said Gianforte took responsibility for his actions and felt the lawmaker should not go to jail.
Gianforte won the election anyway and apologized during his acceptance speech.
Needless to say, Trump's praise of Gianforte - who plead guilty to misdemeanor assault, only adds to the grim view of an America where "free speech" is only protected if it uplifts the current administration.
Other journalists, editors and rights groups also berated Trump for praising Gianforte Thursday night.