White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended President Donald Trump’s tweet that targeted a 75-year-old protester who was shoved to the ground by Buffalo police officers during a protest last week.
Per Factcheck.org, Trump on Tuesday tweeted baseless claims about the man, Martin Gugino. The president wrote, “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”
Republicans on Capitol Hill largely avoided commenting on the president’s tweet, which was a conspiracy theory floated by One America News Network, known for its pro-Trump bent. Others, like Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, condemned the tweet, calling it “reckless.”
McEnany, at a White House briefing on Wednesday, said, “It’s not a baseless conspiracy. No, not at all. I won’t acknowledge that. Let’s contrast this to the George Floyd situation, which that horrific video that we all saw. Every single police officer that I saw across the country came out and said, ‘This is an inexcusable action, and I condemn this police officer in this case.’ There were 57 police officers who said I resigned in protest over the way these two law enforcement officers were handled, and the president says those law enforcement officers have a right to be heard.”
The officers, Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, were suspended, but 57 officers resigned from the city’s emergency response unit in a union protest of the sanction. The officers have pleaded not guilty.
She was then asked whether anything “justifies that 75-year-old man being pushed down to the ground?”
McEnany responded, “The president does not condone violence. He wants to see the appropriate amount of police force used in any given situation, including this one, but he believes the officer has a right to be heard.”
Earlier, in an appearance on Fox & Friends, McEnany was asked about Trump’s tweet and said that the president was raising “questions that need to be asked.”
“This individual has some very questionable tweets, some profanity-laden tweets about police officers,” she said. “Of course no one condones any sort of violence.”
In a sense, Trump’s tweet mirrors the conspiracy theories he floated against Joe Scarborough — unsubstantiated and based on no evidence. Trump claimed that the 2001 death of a congressional aide to Scarborough was a “cold case,” even though it is not. Authorities long ago ruled it accidental, and the aide’s widower even sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking that the social media platform take down Trump’s tweets about the case.
Gugino, a longtime peace activist who is a part of the Catholic Worker movement, is currently recovering from his injuries after being hospitalized.
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