The White House today defended President Donald Trump for promoting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about the 75-year-old protester who was injured by police in Buffalo, New York, arguing that it was “Trump’s prerogative” to ask questions about the case.
Elderly protester Martin Gugino was pushed by police and seriously injured when he fell to the ground when he approached an entire police squad during protests against racism and police brutality last Thursday. The video, which records what happened, sparked another wave of outrage in the United States – following the assassination of George Floyd – and led to allegations being made against the two police officers involved.
Trump, without providing any evidence, wrote in a tweet yesterday that Gugino’s fall to the ground could be a “set-up”, saying the 75-year-old “fell more abruptly than was pushed”, linking the elderly protester to Antifa anti-fascist movement. Trump and other Republicans have tried to blame Antifa for the violence that has erupted in some demonstrations, despite minimal evidence.
In this conspiracy theory, the Republican president cited an article in the One America News Network, which did not provide any evidence. The theory transmitted by OANN was told by a Russian who worked for the Russian news agency Sputnik, which is controlled by the Kremlin, according to the Daily Beast and the New York Times.
“The president just asked some reasonable questions about this interaction. And it’s his privilege to do so,” White House spokeswoman Kylie McEnney told Fox News today.
Democrats and others sparked yesterday’s tweet of the tycoon president and urged Trump to apologize, while many Republicans in Congress and White House Chief of Staff Mark Mentus declined to comment, according to reports. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was “disgusted” by the Republican president’s claim.
A Gugino lawyer described Trump’s statement as “dark, dangerous and false”, according to media reports. The 75-year-old, known for his pro-civil rights activism, told USA TODAY that he had no other comment than “Black Lives Matter” and that he had left the intensive care unit and would recover.
Police officers Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, who pushed Gugino, were suspended and charged with felony criminal mischief.