Donald Trump has backed off from his pledge to pay the legal fees of supporters who attack protesters at his rallies—a reversal that has come after a Trump supporter sucker-punched a protester in the face at a rally in North Carolina last week.
“I don’t condone violence,” Trump told Good Morning America‘s George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday. “I didn’t say I would pay for his fees.”
“So you’re not going to?” Stephanopoulos asked, pressing the Republican front-runner on how he could reconcile paying for such legal fees with his own claim of being a peaceful person.
“Nobody has asked for fees and I haven’t even seen it so I never said I was going to pay for fees,” Trump said.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 15, 2016
These statements come amid intense condemnation over the escalating violence at several chaotic Trump rallies last week.
But the real estate magnate seems to have forgotten the times he has publicly vowed to cover the legal fees his supporters might incur when roughing up protesters.
“So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you?” he told a crowd in Iowa in February. “Seriously, okay, just knock the hell. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees; I promise, I promise.”
As recently as this past Sunday, Trump appeared to stand by his previous statements, telling Meet the Press he had directed his staff to see about covering the legal expenses for the man who attacked a protester at the rally in North Carolina. That, however, no longer appears to be the case.
“I’m going to make a decision,” he said on Tuesday. “But I certainly don’t condone violence and maybe you’re right and maybe that’s why I wouldn’t do it.”