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Doubling down, Trump calls congressman who body-slammed reporter a 'tough cookie'

For the second time in less than 24 hours, Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte, who attacked a reporter last year.
Image: Donald Trump Bill Signing
"Greg is a tremendous guy, tough cookie," Trump said of Gianforte at a Friday bill signing.Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images

TEMPE, Ariz. — President Donald Trump on Friday redoubled his praise for a Montana congressman's assault on a reporter during the lawmaker's campaign for Congress last year.

"Greg is a tremendous guy, tough cookie," Trump said of Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., who was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management counseling and a $385 fine after he pleaded guilty to attacking Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian.

On Thursday night, at a campaign rally in Missoula, Mont., Trump lauded Gianforte to a cheering crowd.

"Never wrestle him," Trump said Thursday night. "Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my guy."

He reiterated his admiration for Gianforte Friday at a signing ceremony for a presidential memorandum instructing members of his Cabinet to remove impediments to major water projects, including streamlining the environmental review process — a boon to farmers and a loss for environmentalists in Western water wars.