White House press secretary says Trump was just 'raising questions' by promoting a conspiracy theory about the 75-year-old protester violently shoved to the ground by Buffalo police
- White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump's promotion of a conspiracy theory about 75-year-old Buffalo protester Martin Gugino, who was violently shoved to the ground by police last week.
- On Tuesday morning, Trump amplified a One America News Network report that Gugino, who is still hospitalized with a brain injury from the incident, is an "antifa provocateur."
- "The president was raising questions based on a report that he saw," McEnany said. "This individual had some very questionable tweets, some profanity-laden tweets about police officers."
- People who know Gugino, however, describe him as a "longtime peace activist" who is involved with the Catholic Worker movement.
During an appearance on Fox News Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended President Donald Trump for promoting a baseless conspiracy theory about a 75-year-old protester violently shoved to the ground by the Buffalo police last week.
In a Tuesday morning tweet, Trump amplified a segment from the right-wing cable network One America News Network (OANN), suggesting that the protester, Martin Gugino, is an "ANITFA provocateur" who was trying to attack police.
Graphic video footage surfaced last Thursday of a Buffalo police officer shoving Gugino to the ground during a protest over police brutality in the city. Gugino, who suffered a brain injury, could be seen laying motionless on the sidewalk, bleeding from his ears.
Two police officers have been suspended from their duties with no pay and charged with second-degree assault by the Erie County District Attorney's office in connection with the incident.
There is no evidence to support the assertions in the OANN report or in Trump's tweet that Gugino, who was left with a cracked skull and is still hospitalized, is an anti-police agitator who was deliberately targeting law enforcement.
Neither the Buffalo Police Department nor any federal law enforcement organizations have released any proof or information to suggest Gugino is part of antifa or other anti-police groups.
But in a Tuesday morning appearance on "Fox & Friends," McEnany stood by and went as far as to defend Trump's tweet on the matter after co-host Brian Kilmeade asked if Trump believes he is a member of "antifa."
"The president was raising questions based on a report that he saw. There are questions that need to be asked. In every case we can't jump on one side without looking at all the facts at play," McEnany said. "This individual had some very questionable tweets, some profanity-laden tweets about police officers."
McEnany continued: "Of course, no one condones any kind of violence. We need the appropriate amount of force used in any interaction, but there are a lot of questions in that case."
—Lis Power (@LisPower1) June 10, 2020
People who know Gugino, however, describe him as a "longtime peace activist" who is involved with the Catholic Worker movement and has previously peacefully protested against police brutality and on climate-related issues, the Buffalo News reported.
"Martin has always been a PEACEFUL protester because he cares about today's society," his attorney Kelly Zarcone said in a statement after Trump's tweet. "He is also a typical Western New Yorker who loves his family. No one from law enforcement has even suggested anything otherwise, so we are at a loss to understand why the President of the United States would make such dark, dangerous, and untrue accusations against him."
—James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) June 6, 2020
"Kinda surreal when the President starts accusing your 75 yr old friend of being an agent of ANTIFA," tweeted Keith Giles, a friend of Gugino's, on Monday. "My friend Martin Gugino is an old man with cancer who is now in the hospital with brain damage after being pushed to the ground by a police officer he was trying to talk to."
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