President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday about the 75-year-old protester in Buffalo, New York, who was seen on video being allegedly assaulted by two police officers whom he approached during a George Floyd protest. The protester, Martin Gugino, was seen on viral video bleeding from the head; prosecutors later charged two officers with shoving him. Despite this, the president said Gugino could be an “ANTIFA provocateur.” Gugino’s attorney told Law&Crime in a statement that this claim was “dark, dangerous, and untrue.”
On Tuesday morning, President Trump amplified a dubiously sourced One America News Network report which questioned Gugino’s motives.
“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” Trump tweeted. “75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment.”
“I watched, he fell harder than was pushed,” Trump continued. “Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”
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
Attorney Kelly V. Zarcone, who represents Gugino, categorically dismissed Trump’s claims as untrue. Here was Zarcone’s full statement to Law&Crime:
Thank you for following up regarding the President’s Tweet about my client, Martin Gugino. Martin is out of ICU but still hospitalized and truly needs to rest. Martin has always been a PEACEFUL protestor because he cares about today’s society. He is also a typical Western New Yorker who loves his family. No one from law enforcement has even suggested anything otherwise so we are at a loss to understand why the President of the United States would make such dark, dangerous, and untrue accusations against him.
Trump was also criticized as “literally insane” by attorney Lanny Davis, who most recently famously represented former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
— Lanny Davis (@LannyDavis) June 9, 2020
The usual chorus of critics also jumped in. Attorney George Conway, the husband of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, said Trump had a “diseased mind,” while Maggie Haberman, a New York Times White House correspondent, said she was still “rubbing her eyes” trying to make sense of Trump’s claims.
NOW can we finally talk frankly as an nation about how diseased a mind the president of the United States has? https://t.co/8s1Qbc2MQm
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) June 9, 2020
Still rubbing eyes at this tweet. The guy was bleeding from is ears and was hospitalized. That was…faked? https://t.co/65J2KWbwKS
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 9, 2020
Others have peeled back the layers of where the theory — which Gugino’s lawyer says is untrue — originated.
Apparent information flow:
– Some people on the Internet →
– The website Conservative Treehouse →
– A Russian state media veteran now working for One America News Network →
– The president of the United States
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) June 9, 2020
The original article cited by OAN on the “Conservative Treehouse” website was written by an anonymous person who publishes under a pseudonym. The site is registered through a company that hides the identity and location of the owner of the website. https://t.co/eKL4kDr2d6
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) June 9, 2020
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) June 9, 2020
The officers charged in connection with the incident, Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe, have pleaded not guilty.
[Image of Trump via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; image of protest via screen capture/WBFO.]
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