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Analysis | Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump has never ‘promoted or encouraged violence.’ She is very wrong.

The Washington Post logoThe Washington Post 6/30/2017 Aaron Blake
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to reporters Thursday. © Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to reporters Thursday.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was dispatched Thursday to defend President Trump's tweets about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski that have earned almost universal condemnation, even from Republicans. In doing so, she made a whopper of a claim.

When a reporter at Thursday's news briefing noted that just two weeks ago, after the shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice, the political world talked of cooling the rhetoric to avoid such violence, Sanders was quick to respond: "The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary."

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This is laughable.

Even if you don't believe Trump has technically incited violence (which he has been sued for), he clearly nodded toward violence at his campaign rallies. Sometimes it was veiled; other times it was unmistakable. Sometimes he was talking about self-defense, but it was clear he was advocating for a “form of violence.”

Here's a little trip down memory lane:

August 2015

Trump attacked Bernie Sanders for letting Black Lives Matter protesters hijack his stage and said that kind of thing would be physically stopped at one of his events.

“I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself or if other people will,” he clarified.

November 2015

“Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Trump said of a protester. “Get him out of here. Throw him out!”

The next day, after video emerged of the protester being treated roughly, Trump said the man was “so obnoxious and so loud” that “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

February 2016

Trump said after someone threw a tomato at a rally: “If you see somebody with a tomato, knock the crap out of them.”

March 2016

“We have had a couple [protesters] that were really violent, and the particular one when I said I'd like to bang him, that was a very  —  he was a guy who was swinging, very loud and started swinging at the audience and the audience swung back, and I thought it was very, very appropriate.”

Trump added: “He was swinging, he was hitting people, and the audience hit back, and that’s what we need.”

(Trump couched this as self-defense, but reporters who attended the rallies said they never saw protesters initiating violence.)

March 2016, again

Talking about someone rushing the stage: “I don't know if I would have done well, but I would have been out there fighting, folks. I don't know if I'd have done well, but I would've been — boom boom boom boom.”

Trump then mouthed, “I'll beat the crap out of you.”

March 2016, again

“Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?”

March 2016, again

“In the good old days this doesn't happen because they used to treat them very, very rough.”

March 2016, again

Trump suggested he would pay the legal fees of those who remove protesters if they get sued.

“Get him out,” Trump said. “Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court, don't worry about it.”

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