Throughout primary season, Donald Trump rallies have grown increasingly violent and chaotic, which culminated in a canceled Chicago event and a spooked Trump in Ohio after a man tried to rush the stage. In the aftermath, Trump has made a made a shift to call these folks “disrupters” instead of “protesters,” which he did on Sunday morning’s episode of Meet the Press.
The distinction between the two words seems important to the reality star for semantic reasons. But moderator Chuck Todd looked past Trump’s attempt to reframe another incident (from last week) where a Trump supporter hauled off and sucker-punched a protester in North Carolina. Trump admitted he’s instructed his people to look into paying the man’s legal fees:
“I’m going to look at it. I’m going to see, you know, what was behind this, because it was a strange event. But from what I heard, there was a lot of taunting and a certain finger was placed in the air. Not nice … I’ve actually instructed my people to look into it, yes.”
He’ll pay the man’s legal fees, but Trump was quick to disavow responsibility for the punch because “I don’t condone violence.” Todd greeted this claim with a clip showing Trump expressing the desire to hit protesters. A bit later in this episode, Trump jabs at Bernie Sanders, whose supporters waved “professionally made” Sanders signs in Chicago. This is Trump’s sly way of saying Sanders orchestrates the protests. Of course, these folks could have plucked up Sanders signs at previous Sanders rallies, but that doesn’t fit Trump’s efforts to construct a narrative. He still wants to blame Sanders and Hillary Clinton for what happens at his own events.
More Trump stuff (because it never stops). On Saturday evening, his Kansas City, Missouri rally ended with lots of tears and pepper spray, which police used to disperse crowds of protesters.
Here’s video of Trump on the pulpit in Kansas City where he devoted a great deal of his speech to calling protesters bad people.