Trump vows to sign an executive order requiring colleges to ‘support free speech’

Posted at 7:49 PM, Mar 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-02 21:49:26-05

(CNN) — President Donald Trump vowed Saturday to sign an executive order requiring colleges and universities to “support free speech” in order to be eligible for federal research dollars.

“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people and old people to speak,” Trump said in part of his two-hour long speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

The President did not offer any more details on the order.

Trump was referring to Hayden Williams, a conservative activist who recently made headlines after he was allegedly punched in the face at the University of California Berkeley earlier this week. The President brought Williams out as he made the announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, he took a hard punch in the face for all of us,” Trump said.

Video of the incident shows Williams and another man struggling before the man punches Williams in the face, knocking his hat off.

The suspect is then seen getting close to Williams’ face and shouting profanities at him. He punches Williams in the face once more before walking away.

Williams was at UC Berkeley to recruit students for a yet-to-be-formed chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative advocacy group that bills itself as the right’s alternative to liberal activism on college campuses.

A spokesperson for Williams said that he was a field representative for the Leadership Institute, a group that helps train conservative leaders.

Neither Williams nor the man suspected of punching him are students at UC Berkeley.

The University of California Police Department said they had identified the suspect as Zachary Greenberg, and that he had been arrested and booked. Police added that the case would be presented to the district attorney’s office for “consideration of the filing of criminal charges.”

UC Berkeley’s chancellor Carol Christ and vice chancellor Stephen C. Sutton condemned the incident in a statement on Thursday.

“That sort of behavior is intolerable and has no place here,” the statement said. “Our commitment to freedom of expression and belief is unwavering.”