PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:01
Leahy: Trump comments demean Constitution
Now playing
01:35
Laughter follows awkward moment between GOP leaders
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images/CNN
Now playing
03:11
Cabrera: GOP suddenly cares about mean tweets ... just not Trump's
Now playing
03:20
Avlon on Ron Johnson: Hyperpartisan denial is a hell of a drug
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation
PHOTO: Samuel Corum/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:04
Capitol officials say riot was planned and involved white supremacists
Then-President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, October 20, 2020.
PHOTO: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Then-President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, October 20, 2020.
Now playing
02:44
What Trump's released tax records mean for DA's criminal case
Now playing
02:51
'This is incredible': Burnett explains Trump's reported offer to Kim Jong Un
From left, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, bow their heads during a ceremony to honor the 500,000 Americans that died from COVID-19, at the White House, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
PHOTO: Evan Vucci/AP
From left, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, bow their heads during a ceremony to honor the 500,000 Americans that died from COVID-19, at the White House, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Now playing
05:45
Biden leads nation in mourning 500,000 US Covid-19 deaths
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:06
Honig: Public won't see Trump's taxes unless this happens
Now playing
02:00
Former FBI Deputy Director: Trump taxes 'massive trove of information'
Now playing
01:31
Lara Trump: Donald Trump may run in 2024 and beyond
gop rep michael mccaul texas winter storm response bash sotu vpx_00041202.png
gop rep michael mccaul texas winter storm response bash sotu vpx_00041202.png
Now playing
04:12
Texas GOP rep.: When a crisis hits my state, I don't go on vacation
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
04:18
GOP governor reacts to his nephew leaving the Republican Party
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
03:00
'Forged over decades': WH reporter on Biden, Dole relationship
Now playing
01:26
Did Pence feel betrayed after riot? His former chief of staff responds
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
03:34
'Real sense of betrayal': Reporter on GOP facing backlash over impeachment vote
(CNN) —  

Sen. Patrick Leahy on Friday criticized President Donald Trump for jokes he made at a rally Thursday night about Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte’s assault of a journalist.

“I think it’s terrible,” the Vermont Democrat told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “Wolf.” “I cannot imagine any president – I’ve been here since President Ford – I’ve been here with Republicans and Democrats. I cannot imagine any president in the United States saying anything so irresponsible.”

In praising Gianforte at a rally in Montana Thursday, Trump made reference to a 2017 incident wherein Gianforte drew national attention after assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs for asking him a question a day before the election. He later apologized for the incident and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.

“But Greg is smart,” Trump said. “And by the way, never wrestle him. You understand that? Never.”

“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of … He was my guy,” he continued and made a gesture mimicking a body slam.

Trump has made his critiques of the press a central part of his political persona. Leahy said Friday the barrage of attacks against journalists isn’t healthy for the country.

“We should be the beacon of freedoms. It demeans the United States, it demeans our Constitution and it’s wrong,” he said. “We are different than dictatorships and totalitarian governments because we have a free press and every president – Republican or Democrat – should be defending and supporting our free press even when it criticizes him.”