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Trump lies about paying defense for sucker-punching supporter: ‘I didn’t say I was going to pay his fees’

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Donald Trump would like to "sit back" and watch as Russia get bogged down in Syria (AFP Photo/Darren Mccollester)

Donald Trump denied saying he would pay legal fees for a supporter who sucker-punched a black protester last week during a rally in North Carolina.

The Republican presidential candidate earlier this month told supporters in Michigan that he would “defend (them) in court” if they hurt protesters, and he said Sunday that he would consider paying defense costs for 78-year-old John McGraw — who was charged with disorderly conduct after he was caught on video punching a protester.

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“I’ve actually instructed my people to look into it,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Just two days later, Trump flatly denied saying anything like that in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” where host George Stephanopoulos asked whether he would send the message that he condones violence if he paid for McGraw’s legal defense.

“I don’t condone violence and I didn’t say I was going to pay for his fees,” Trump said Tuesday morning. “No, I didn’t say that. I haven’t looked at it yet, and nobody’s asked me to pay for fees and somebody asked me the question, and I haven’t even seen it. So I never said I was going to pay for fees, no.”

Stephanopoulos said he understood Trump had previously said only that he would look into paying for his supporter’s legal fees, and he asked again if his openness to assisting McGraw would essentially be rewarding violence.

“Well, maybe so, and maybe that’s why I wouldn’t do it — I don’t condone violence at all,” Trump said. “You know, I looked and I watched and I’m going to 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.”

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Stephanopoulos asked whether he would tone down his rhetoric in the face of criticism that he incites violence against protesters at his rallies.

“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 there’s not even a contest, and we’ve had very, very little difficulty,” Trump said. “We closed down one in Chicago. Other than that, we’ve had very, very little difficulty, if you look at when you have 25,000 or even 35,000 people at these rallies — we’ve had very, very little difficulties.”

The reversal is reminiscent of when Trump tried to have it both ways just two weeks ago when a former Ku Klux Klan leader threw his support behind the GOP frontrunner.

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Trump refused to disavow white supremacist David Duke or the KKK in a Feb. 28 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, saying he would have to research the white supremacist groups before commenting on their support.

The following day, Trump blamed his wishy-washy reaction to a “very bad earpiece” that prevented him from understanding the question about Duke and the KKK.

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White nationalists were caught on video March 1 roughing up black protesters at a Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky.

Watch the interview posted online by ABC News:


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

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Mary Trump sheds light on the president’s bizarre pattern of psychological projection

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President Donald Trump's niece, psychologist Mary Trump, appeared Friday on CNN to discuss her uncle's behavior during the recent president debate.

CNN host Anderson Cooper noted that Tony Schwartz, who is best known for ghostwriting "Trump: The Art of the Deal," has said "that when the president attacks people, the words he uses, the attacks he wages against other people are really things that are true about himself."

The CNN host said a similar dynamic was at play during the final presidential debate when Trump attacked Biden as being part of an organized crime family.

"It is amazing how much projection there is and I don't know if that's the term," Cooper said.

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WATCH: Shep Smith ends his show with a passionate plea to ‘follow the Fauci’ as COVID-19 surges

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CNBC host Shepard Smith, a former veteran newsman at Fox News, on Friday begged Americans to follow guidance from Anthony Fauci to prevent the spread of COVID-19

“Those of us in New York and the Northeast are worried about you, our friends, our loved ones and our viewers across the country, now more than ever really,” Smith said. “This new COVID surge is awful. So, follow the Fauci. Not for us, we are mostly good around here, we are worried for you. So please, follow the Fauci," he said.

New York was hit hard during the initial stages of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States. "We lived the horror of neighbors and friends sick and dying," Smith said.

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Trump gets schooled by a historian for comparing his achievements to Abraham Lincoln’s

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During the final presidential debate on Thursday, President Donald Trump boasted that he had done more for Black Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln. On Friday, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin appeared on CNN and blasted Trump for his remark.

“The most important thing in a time of crisis is for a president to be willing it take responsibility. One of FDR’s aides once said when things are going on right, people don't have to think a lot about the character demanded by the presidency. He can just stay in that old picture frame,” she told CNN host Chris Cuomo.

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