GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed Tuesday on ABC that he had “never” offered to pay the legal fees for supporters arrested at his rallies, even though he used that exact terminology in Iowa last month and expressed interest in doing so for a man who assaulted a protester last week in North Carolina.
“You said in your rallies yesterday you’re a peace-loving person, but you’re still open to paying the legal fee of your supporter who cold-cocked a protester in North Carolina last week,” Good Morning America host George Stephanoupoulos said. “By paying those fees, wouldn’t you be rewarding and encouraging violence?”
“No, because I don’t condone violence, and I didn’t say I was going to pay for the fees,” Trump said.
“So you’re not going to?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“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,” Trump said. “So I never said I was going to pay for fees.”
“You said you were looking into it, and I’m just saying if you’re open to that, by paying those fees, wouldn’t that be rewarding violence?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Well, maybe so, and maybe that’s why I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said. “I don’t condone violence at all, and 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.”
Trump said on Meet The Press on Sunday that he would “take a look” at paying the fees for John McGraw, the 78-year-old charged with assault for sucker-punching a black protester as the latter was leaving a Trump rally in North Carolina.
Trump also made the offer during a rally last month in Iowa.
“There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience,” Trump said at rally in Cedar Rapids on Feb. 1. “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell—I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise. It won’t be so much because the courts agree with us too.”