Donald Trump, under fire from rivals and establishment conservatives for failing to condemn KKK leader David Duke in an interview over the weekend, took aim at the media on Monday, once again vowing to “change the laws so the press has to be honest.”
“The press is amazingly dishonest,” Trump said at a rally in Radford, Va. “It’s a big problem in this country.”
Trump said last week that as president, he would like to change libel laws to make it easier to sue media outlets. He did not go into specifics, but there is no federal defamation statute; libel is generally the jurisdiction of the states.
Trump has been on the defensive over an interview on Sunday with Jake Tapper of CNN’s “State of the Union.” Asked about the endorsement of Duke and white supremacist groups, Trump failed to condemn them.
After the interview, Trump tweeted out footage from a Friday press conference in which he disavowed Duke, and on Monday sent out a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, albeit there is some dispute over whether he actually said it: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” On Monday, Trump even blamed his failure to condemn Duke on a “faulty earpiece,” while insisting that he already had disavowed him.
“Now I go and I sit down again, I have a lousy earpiece that is provided by” CNN, Trump said on NBC’s “Today” on Monday. “And frankly, [Tapper] talked about groups. He also talked about groups. And I have no problem with disavowing groups but I’d at least like to know who they are.”
At a campaign appearance on Monday, his rival Marco Rubio said, “I don’t care how bad the earpiece is, Ku Klux Klan comes through pretty clearly.”
Rubio has traded insults with Trump since the latest GOP debate on Thursday, mocking Trump’s hair and spray tan, even the size of his hands (in an innuendo over the size of his private parts).
Trump returned the high-school caliber attacks on Monday, saying that Rubio “couldn’t even be elected dog catcher.” As Rubio has called Trump a “con artist,” Trump claimed that Rubio “defrauded” the residents of Florida when he was in the state senate.
Update: Time magazine photographer Chris Morris said that he was grabbed by the neck and thrown down by a Secret Service agent as he was trying to shoot protesters being escorted out of the Trump rally. He told CNN’s Jim Acosta that he stepped outside the press pen and then was grabbed by the neck, choked and slammed to the ground.
This is how reporters are treated at Trump rallies pic.twitter.com/hMxuEoKVeG
— Gabby Morrongiello (@gabriellahope_) February 29, 2016
Here’s moments prior. The reporter says “f*ck you” — that’s when it got physical pic.twitter.com/h9K2wIbEWQ
— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) February 29, 2016
Time photog Chris Morris tells me how he was grabbed and taken down at Trump rally pic.twitter.com/XKDJarpXda
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) February 29, 2016
The Secret Service issued a statement, confirming that one of its employees was involved in the altercation.
“At this time, our local field office is working with their law enforcement partners to determine the exact circumstances that led up to this incident. The Secret Service will provide further details as warranted once additional facts surrounding the situation are known.”