Trump hails body slamming Congressman Greg Gianforte in Montana

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

Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in June 2017 for assaulting Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian.

His remarks come amid furore over fate of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who is presumed to be murdered.

"And I said 'Oh, this is bad. he's going to lose the election, '" Trump said before adding, "Then I said 'Well, wait a minute".

In the case of Mr Gianforte, witnesses including members of a Fox News crew say Mr Gianforte became enraged over what he perceived as biased coverage before body-slamming Jacobs, throwing him to the ground and punching him. Trump said. "He's a great guy".

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The congressman later apologized for his actions and was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a US$300 fine along with an $85 court fee. "I shouldn't say that - (but) there's nothing to be embarrassed about".

Gianforte is running for re-election as the state's lone seat in the House of Representatives, and made national headlines during a special election for assaulting a reporter in a moment caught on audio tape.

At the rally, Trump urged people to vote for Gianforte, describing him as "an incredible Montana leader" and "one of the most respected people in Congress".

"Greg is smart", Mr Trump said of Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte, adding "by the way never wrestle him". I think it might help him.

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"This will be an election of (Justice Brett) Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order and common sense", Trump said.

He also wrote a letter of apology in which he acknowledged assaulting Mr Jacobs for asking "a legitimate question about healthcare policy".

Trump was speaking at a rally in Missoula, Mont., where the president was campaigning for a Republican challenger to Sen.

The President's next stop on his three-day trip out West is Arizona.

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