At a campaign rally in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, President Donald Trump mocked reporters and praised acts of excessive violence by police officers against journalists.
The remarks came as Trump, 74, described recent protests in which law enforcement officers "grabbed" protesters and reporters. While imitating a police officer throwing a reporter to the side, Trump said, "They threw him aside like he was a little bag of popcorn."
"But I mean honestly, when you watch the crap that we've all had to take so long, when you see that, it's actually — you don't want to do that — but when you see it, it's actually a beautiful sight," Trump continued. "It's a beautiful sight."
Trump also used his time on stage to mock MSNBC host Ali Velshi, who was recently hit in the knee with a rubber bullet while covering a protest.
Mocking Velshi, while also misidentifying the network for which he works, Trump said, "That idiot reporter from CNN got hit on the knee with a can of tear gas, right? And he went down. 'I’ve been hit. I’ve been hit.' "
"But he went down, and he didn’t like it. He was hit," Trump continued, adding, mockingly, " 'Police brutality.' "
The Trump campaign did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.
The Tuesday comments echoed similar remarks made at a Minnesota rally last week, when Trump again seized on Velshi's knee injury.
"He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas. And he went down," Trump said at the Sept. 20 rally. "He didn’t — he was down. ‘My knee! My knee!’ Nobody cared, these guys didn’t care. They moved him aside. And they just walked right through — it was like, it was the most beautiful thing."
Velshi responded to those remarks in a tweet, writing, "So, @realDonaldTrump, you call my getting hit by authorities in Minneapolis on 5/30/20 (by a rubber bullet, btw, not a tear gas cannister) a 'beautiful thing' called 'law and order'. What law did I break while covering an entirely peaceful (yes, entirely peaceful) march?"
Mocking protestors — whom he has referred to as "terrorists" — and defending police officers has become an integral part of the Trump's campaign's 2020 message. At other rallies in recent months, Trump has called protestors "thugs" and argued that Democrats "don't believe in law and order."
Trump has long had a contentious relationship with the press, often getting in heated exchanges with journalists during press conferences and belittling them at campaign rallies.
The president has also called the press "the enemy of the American people" and consistently refers to news outlets including CNN, the New York Times and NBC as "fake news" and "failing."
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