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"Give me a break" - Donald Trump defends comments that appeared to hint at Hillary assassination

Trump has faced widespread condemnation for the comments.

Trump speaks during a campaign rally yesterday.
Trump speaks during a campaign rally yesterday.
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

DONALD TRUMP HAS defended comments he made that appeared to call for gun owners to protect their right to bear arms by shooting Hillary Clinton.

Speaking yesterday, first Trump falsely claimed that Clinton, his Democratic opponent, wants to “essentially abolish the Second Amendment”.

Trump then noted the power Clinton would have to nominate justices to the high court.

“By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina.

But I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day.

The reaction was immediate from Democrats, with widespread condemnation of the Republican presidential hopefuls remarks.

Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said that Trump was “dangerous”.

This is simple — what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.

Trump later defended the comments, appearing to be confused at how they could be interpreted.

Speaking to Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump said that nobody in the room when he made the comments thought that he was suggesting gun owners should take the law into their own hands.

“This is a political movement. This is a strong, powerful movement, the Second Amendment… there can be no other interpretation,” said Trump.

Even reporters have told me – I mean give me a break.

At another rally later on in Fayetteville in North Caroline, Trump was careful with his words.

He repeated his argument that Clinton poses a threat to gun rights, but avoided any talk about advocates taking matters into their own hands. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, introducing him, blamed the controversy on “disgusting” journalists.

Hillary Clinton Clinton speaks to medical professionals after taking a tour of Borinquen Health Care Center in Florida yesterday. Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

“Dishonest media”

Trump’s campaign sought to quell the controversy with a statement that blamed the “dishonest media” for misinterpretation.

And Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said his boss was talking about the election choice for pro-gun voters, not encouraging violence.

Yet Trump’s foes were unconvinced and unforgiving.

Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said:

I think it was just revealing… and I don’t find the attempt to roll it back persuasive at all.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has endorsed Clinton, said Trump was encouraging gun violence “based on conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton”.

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted:

The National Rifle Association, the gun lobby that has endorsed Trump, came to his defence.

The group wrote on Twitter that “there’s nothing we can do” if Clinton is elected, urging voters to defeat her in November.

The controversy immediately overwhelmed Trump’s intended campaign-trail focus: the economic plan he unveiled just a day earlier and was promoting during a series of rallies in the most competitive general election states.

It also reinforced the concern, voiced by many worried Republicans, that he cannot stay disciplined and avoid inflammatory remarks that imperil not only his White House prospects but the re-election chances of many GOP lawmakers.

Donald Trump Source: Evan Vucci

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was celebrating a primary victory in Wisconsin last night said:

It sounds like just a joke gone bad. I hope they clear this up very quickly. You never joke about something like that.

Clinton’s supporters are hoping the latest Trump trip-up will lead yet more of his fellow Republicans to defect.

A day earlier, Maine Senator Susan Collins became the latest to declare she won’t vote for her party’s nominee, explicitly pointing to his “constant stream of cruel comments”.

The US Secret Service, responsible for both Clinton’s and Trump’s protection, said it was aware of what Trump had said but declined to say whether it planned to investigate.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

Read: Parents of two men killed in Benghazi attack sue Hillary Clinton

Read: Despite his reboot – it looks like lack of support from his party could cost Trump the election

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