Trump Falsely Accuses an Elderly Buffalo Protester of Staging His Violent Police Encounter

The president appears to have picked up the conspiracy theory from a far-right Russian reporter.

Doug Mills/ZUMA

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Even by the ever-sinking standards of President Trump’s fondness for right-wing conspiracy theories, his latest is something to behold.

On Tuesday, Trump accused the elderly protester who was violently shoved to the ground by Buffalo police last Thursday of staging the incident as an operation for Antifa. The incredible accusation—entirely baseless—defies the reality captured in a widely seen video that has since led to the firing of the two officers who pushed 75-year-old Martin Gugino, causing him to bleed from the head, during a protest against police brutality outside Buffalo’s City Hall.

Trump’s effort to smear Gugino, and by extension defend the two officers now charged with felony assault, follows the Buffalo Police Department’s initial claim that Gugino “tripped and fell.” The president’s tweet came just hours before George Floyd is to be laid to rest in his hometown of Houston, Texas.

Trump’s outburst appears to echo a segment from the far-right news network One America News, which floated the conspiracy theory that Gugino had been attempting to “scan” police communications during the protest. “I watched,” Trump wrote, “he fell harder than was pushed.”

The reporter in the OAN segment, as Media Matters’ Matt Gertz noted, is Kristian Rouz—a Russian national who also writes for the Kremlin-owned news outlet Sputnik. The Daily Beast has more on Rouz:

Kremlin propaganda sometimes sneaks into Rouz’s segments on unrelated matters, dropped in as offhand background information. A segment on the Syrian rescue workers known as the White Helmets references “allegations of the White Helmets’ involvement in military activities, executions, and numerous war atrocities,” but doesn’t disclose that those “allegations” were hoaxes that originated with Vladimir Putin and his proxies. […]

Rouz joined OAN at a time when his Russian employer was coming under heightened scrutiny over its role in Putin’s election interference, and its efforts to expand its American influence. 

As of Monday, Gugino remains hospitalized in “serious but stable condition.”

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate