Backtracking from a comment in a Meet The Press interview on Sunday that he would pay the legal fees of a supporter who sucker-punched a protester at a North Carolina rally, Donald Trump went on Good Morning America on Tuesday to say that he never made such a promise to the violent supporter.
This is what George Stephanopoulos asked Trump:
You said in your rallies yesterday, you’re a peace-loving person, but you’re still open to paying the legal fees of your supporter who cold-cocked a protester in North Carolina last week. By paying those fees, wouldn’t you be rewarding and encouraging violence?
No, because I don’t condone violence, and I didn’t say I was going to pay for those fees…
So you’re not going to?
No, I didn’t say that. I haven’t looked at it yet. And nobody has asked me to pay for fees and somebody asked me a question and I hadn’t even seen it, so I never said I was going to pay for fees.
Stephanopoulos knows what Trump said, and wouldn’t let up on the questioning.
No, but you said you were looking into it. And I’m just saying, if you’re open to that, wouldn’t–by paying those fees–wouldn’t that be rewarding violence?
Well, maybe so. And maybe that’s why I wouldn’t do it. I don’t condone violence at all, and you know–I looked, and I watched, and I’m gonna make a decision, but I certainly don’t condone violence, and maybe you’re right, and maybe that’s why I wouldn’t do it.
Back on Sunday, Trump implied that the punch came after “a lot of taunting and a certain finger was placed in the air.” I suppose it was always sort of vague what “look into it” means, exactly. Seizing on the plausible deniability aspect, Trump now implies that he meant that he would investigate the incident. Does this mean he’d punish his violent supporter then?
Stephanopoulos then asked him if he would be “toning down your own rhetoric,” because of all those things he said that “seem to encourage violence.” Trump answered: “Well, I don’t think I should be toning it down, because, you know, I’ve had the biggest rallies of anybody probably ever, in terms of primaries, and it’s not even a contest.”
So, other than that canceled rally in Chicago, Trump doesn’t have to change anything he says, because he’s still popular.