NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (CBS/AP) — President Donald Trump vowed to sign an executive order that would withhold federal funds from schools that fail to protect “free speech” on campus.
Mr. Trump did not specify when he would sign such order and did not provide additional details.
The proposal is likely designed to appease concerns by some conservatives that their voices are stifled on college campuses.
Trump invited Hayden Williams to join him Saturday while he addressed activists attending the Conservative Political Action Conference. Williams was punched Feb. 19 while on the campus of University of California, Berkeley. He was recruiting for the conservative group Talking Points USA.
Two men approached and one punched him during a confrontation captured on student cellphones. University of California, Berkeley police arrested a suspect, Zachary Greenberg, on Friday.
Williams, who had a black eye, told Fox News that the men objected to a sign that said “Hate Crime Hoaxes Hurt Real Victims.”
Neither Williams nor Greenberg is affiliated with UC Berkeley.
Trump told the audience Saturday that Williams “took a hard punch in the face for all of us.” Meanwhile, Williams said many conservative students face “discrimination, harassment or worse if they dare speak up on campus.”
The president’s comments immediately drew scrutiny from those who noted that public research universities already have a constitutional obligation to protect free speech.
“An executive order is unnecessary as public research universities are already bound by the First Amendment, which they deeply respect and honor,” said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. “It is core to their academic mission.”
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report