Donald Trump
Donald TrumpReuters

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to defend former CNN host Jeffrey Lord, with whom the network severed ties earlier this month after he tweeted the words “Sieg Heil!” at a liberal activist.

Speaking at a rally in Pheonix, Arizona, Trump mentioned Lord while criticizing CNN and saying the network had poor ratings because they had few pro-Trump voices.

“Poor Jeffrey. I guess he was getting a little bit fed up and was probably fighting back too hard and they said ‘we gotta get out of here,’” Trump said.

Lord, a former Reagan administration staffer who often appeared on CNN to back the administration, was dismissed by the network after engaging in a heated argument on Twitter with Angelo Carusone, the president of the liberal group Media Matters for America.

Responding to a storm of criticism, Lord defended his tweet by saying he was “mocking a fascist.”

In his remarks at Tuesday's rally, Trump criticized the media for misrepresenting his comments following the recent violence in Charlottesville.

Trump called reporters “dishonest” and “bad” people, and proceeded to pull out of his pocket transcripts of his remarks at various stages after the deadly attack.

Referencing his condemnation of the violence at the rally last Monday, Trump said, “I hit them with neo-Nazi, I hit them with everything,” he said. “I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi, I got them all. Let’s see — we have KKK. We have KKK. I got them all.”