Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst in an interview refused to condemn President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory about an elderly protestor who was injured by a police officer, claiming she doesn’t “know the facts behind that situation.”
Ernst was asked Tuesday on ABC News to respond to the president’s false assertion that a man who was shoved to the ground by a Buffalo, New York, police officer is an “ANTIFA provocateur” who “set up” his interaction with the officer.
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2020
Antifa, shorthand for anti-fascist, is a movement Trump and conservatives have blamed for inciting violence and property damage at otherwise peaceful protests around police brutality and racial justice. There is currently no evidence to suggest anti-fascist groups are behind the protests occurring nationwide in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
When asked by the reporter if Ernst thought Trump’s tweet was “appropriate,” she responded: “Well, I think what we need to focus on, certainly, is facts. I don’t know the facts behind that situation, but certainly what we should be doing today is focusing on unification and honoring George Floyd.”
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) June 10, 2020
Video of the interaction between 75-year-old Martin Gugino and police officers was recorded by WBFO reporter Mike Desmond. It clearly shows the man shoved by an officer — now suspended by the Buffalo Police Department — and blood coming from his head as he lay on the ground.
— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
This is the second time in recent days Ernst has declined to criticize the president on controversial issues.
On June 3, CNN’s Manu Raju asked Ernst to comment on the White House’s use of tear gas on peaceful protestors.
“I think we all will do things differently and the president chose one path,” she said.
Asked GOP Sen. Joni Ernst this evening if knowing what she knows now she had any concerns with the way Trump’s Monday church stop was handled, and she said: “I think we all will do things differently and the president chose one path.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 4, 2020
By Elizabeth Meyer
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