President-elect Donald Trump praised his supporters for being "vicious" and "violent" during the 2016 presidential election, despite insisting throughout the campaign that allegations of viciousness and violence among his supporters were being caused by paid protesters.
"You people were vicious, violent, screaming, 'Where's the wall? We want the wall!' Screaming, 'Prison! Prison! Lock her up!' I mean, you are going crazy," Trump said during a stop in Orlando, Florida on Friday.
"You were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right? But now, now it's much different. Now, you're laid back, you're cool, you're mellow, right? You're basking in the glory of victory," Trump added.
Trump's statement directly contradict his own words and actions from the campaign trail. Despite repeatedly offering to pay the legal fees for Trump supporters who were arrested for punching anti-Trump protesters, the president-elect had also claimed that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were paying protesters to cause the violence that frequently broke out at his campaign rallies. Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski even tweeted out a fake news story in March claiming that paid protesters were responsible for the disruptions at Trump rallies.
If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned & called terrible names!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2016
There multiple incidents of violence at Trump's campaign rallies throughout the election. These included but were not limited to a Trump supporter knocking down and kicking a protester in October 2015, a Trump supporter sucker-punching a protester during a rally in March, a different protester being sucker-punched at a different rally later that same month, a Trump supporter getting into a bloody altercation outside a rally in April, both pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces using pepper spray on each other outside a city council meeting in April, and a photographer being hit by a rock during a rally in June.