Trump scolded for praising Republican who slammed reporter

Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., is greeted on stage by President Donald Trump during a campaign rally at Minuteman Aviation Hangar, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, in Missoula, Mont. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) –The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican senator says the U.S. needs a president who “celebrates the First Amendment,” not one who “pretends that beating up a reporter is OK.”

Nebraska’s Ben Sasse (sas) has frequently criticized President Donald Trump for what he considers Trump’s uncivil rhetoric. Sasse has said he “regularly” considers leaving his party and becoming an independent.

Last week in Montana, Trump praised a congressman who, as a candidate last year, body-slammed a reporter. Trump called Greg Gianforte (jee-an-FOR’-tay) a “tough cookie” and “my kind of guy.” Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.

Sasse says many consider Trump’s raw rhetoric “playful” and “tune most of it out.”

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But Sasse tells CNN’s “State of the Union” any president should be a steward of a free press and not joke about an assault.

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