White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday morning defended President Donald Trump’s tweet that baselessly suggested Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old activist who was knocked unconscious when two Buffalo police officers shoved him onto the pavement last week, was a “provocateur” in a false flag operation.
“The President was raising questions based on a report that he saw. They’re questions that need to be asked,” McEnany told the co-hosts of “Fox and Friends.”
The press secretary insisted that “no one condones any sort of violence,” but “there are a lot of questions in that case.”
She dismissed the idea that the timing of Trump’s tweet, which he had posted on the day of George Floyd’s funeral amid nationwide protests against police brutality, was particularly inappropriate.
“The President was raising some questions, some legitimate ones, about that particular interaction, and it’s his prerogative to do so,” McEnany said.
The press secretary doubled down during a press briefing several hours later, arguing that Trump was “standing up for law enforcement men and women across this country” with the tweet.
But despite the White House’s claims, there is absolutely no evidence that Gugino, who is still in the hospital recovering from his head injury, was conspiring with “antifa” (a loosely affiliated anti-fascist movement) to take down the police.
Trump’s unhinged tweet was based solely on a so-called “report” by far-right media outlet OAN, which fabricated a tale that claimed Gugino was attempting to disrupt police communications with his phone.
“Let me say that Martin is a peaceful protester and is not affiliated with Antifa or similar organization,” Kelly Zarcone, Gugino’s lawyer, told TPM on Tuesday. “He didn’t have any equipment to disrupt police communications or anything of the sort.”
Besides the phony nature of OAN’s report, the actual video of the incident clearly shows the two officers, who have since been charged with assault, pushing Gugino to the ground unprovoked and walking past him as he lay bleeding.
Watch McEnany on Fox below:
McEnany defends Trump's peddling of a deranged conspiracy theory about the Buffalo police brutality incident: POTUS was "raising questions" that "need to be asked." pic.twitter.com/EUwSDbDFP2
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) June 10, 2020