While acknowledging that he does “not condone violence in any shape,” Donald Trump said of the atmosphere of his campaign events, “I don’t accept responsibility.”
At Trump rallies in the last week, one protester was punched in the face, a man was stopped by Secret Service when he tried to rush the stage and Trump’s Chicago rally had to be called off due to flare ups and fighting in the arena.
When asked specifically about the man who was punched by a Trump supporter, the real estate mogul blamed the victim.
“I will tell you from what I saw, the young man stuck his finger up in the air, and the other man sort of just had it,” told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “But I still, I don’t condone violence.”
“He went absolutely wild punching, and frankly, when they punch, it’s okay. When my people punch back because they have to out of self-defense, everybody says, ‘Oh, isn’t that terrible?’ The fact is, that we have very peaceful rallies.”
There is no indication that the man who was attacked threw any punches — he was being led out by security when he was ambushed by the Trump supporter. There is video showing the young man raising his middle finger before he is punched in the face. When pressed as to whether someone being vulgar condones being hurt, Trump responded:
“No, as I told you before, nothing condones. But I want to see. The man got carried away, he was 78 years old, he obviously loves his country, and maybe he doesn’t like seeing what’s happening to the country. I want to see the full tape. But I don’t condone violence.”
Publicly, Trump has said before that he would be willing to pay the legal fees of a supporter that is charged with hurting a protester at one of his events and he did not back down from that promise today.
“I’ve actually instructed my people to look into it,” Trump said.
Trump blamed the growing tension at his rallies on people being “sick and tired of this country being run by incompetent people that don’t know what they’re doing on trade deals, where our jobs are being ripped out of our countries.”
“They’re not angry about something I’m saying. I’m just a messenger,” he said. “The people are angry about the fact that for 12 years, the workers in this country haven’t had a pay increase.”
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.