Montana Republican candidate for Congress Greg Gianforte reportedly “body slammed” a Guardian reporter on the eve of the state’s special election.
Audio of the conflict is recorded below.
Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was merely asking Gianforte about RINOCare, when Gianforte allegedly “body slammed” him, breaking his glasses.
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said while inside an ambulance. “I think he whaled on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said in the recording. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”
“Yes! You just broke my glasses,” Jacobs replied.
“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte said.
“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs said.
“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte yelled.
The assault was also witnessed by a Fox News reporter and her team.
Alicia Acuna at Fox reports:
As part of our preparation for a story about Thursday’s special election to air on “Special Report with Bret Baier,” we arranged interviews with the top two candidates, Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist. On Wednesday, I joined field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey in Bozeman for our scheduled interview with Gianforte, which was to take place at the Gianforte for Congress Bozeman Headquarters.
Faith, Keith and I arrived early to set up for the interview in a room adjacent to another room where a volunteer BBQ was to take place. As the time for the interview neared, Gianforte came into the room. We exchanged pleasantries and made small talk about restaurants and Bozeman.
During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.
At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”
Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. Jacobs then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left.
Gianforte was issued a citation by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, but according to a statement, the nature of the injuries that Jacobs received “did not meet the statutory elements of a felony assault.”
“Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault,” Sheriff Brian Gootkin said in a statement. “The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault. Greg Gianforte received a citation on Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice court between now and 7 June 2017.”
Scanion issued a statement in which he said that Jacobs “entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.”
Later, the statement added, “After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”
Wait, “aggressive behavior”? He was asking questions. Even the Fox reporter claims that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him” and went on to state, “at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte.”
It seems clear that Mr. Gianforte cannot control himself enough to represent anyone in office.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has called on Gianforte to apologize, saying what he did was “wrong and it should not have happened,” sort of like many of the things that Ryan has voted for and advanced during his time in DC.
Gianforte faces a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail if convicted.
We’ll see how this altercation effects how voters vote on Thursday as Gianforte only had a slight lead over Democrat Rob Quist.