Tags: greg gianforte | montana | gop candidate | assault

Greg Gianforte, GOP's Montana Special Election Candidate, Charged in Assault on Reporter

Image: Greg Gianforte, GOP's Montana Special Election Candidate, Charged in Assault on Reporter

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 25 May 2017 07:01 AM

Greg Gianforte, the GOP candidate in the Montana special election, was charged with assault on election eve after reportedly body slamming a news reporter. The incident was witnessed by a Fox News team.

Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by President Donald Trump, faced Democratic Rob Quist on Thursday in an already tight race, noted Montana Public Radio.

The Billings Gazette and Missoulian newspapers pulled their endorsements of Gianforte on Wednesday evening after assault charges were filed.

The incident at Gianforte's campaign headquarters in Bozeman on Wednesday was making national headlines as Gianforte attempts to win the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, appointed as secretary of the Department of the Interior in the Trump administration on March 1.

According to The Guardian, its political reporter Ben Jacobs was asking Gianforte about the Republican health care plan when the candidate "body-slammed" and yelled at him.

"He took me to the ground," Jacobs told The Guardian. "I think he wailed 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," a voice believed to be that of Gianforte can be heard yelling on audio, said Montana Public Radio. "The last guy did the same damn thing. Get the hell out of here."

Jacobs' account was corroborated by a Fox News  crew – reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey – who witnessed the incident while setting up for an interview.

They verified Jabobs' account in a Fox News story.

After conducting an investigation, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said his office was charging Gianforte with misdemeanor 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," said a Gootkin 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 June 7."

Gianforte's campaign gave a different account of the incident, charging that Jacobs interrupted an interview "without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions," said Montana Public Radio.

"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," Gianforte spokesperson Shane Scanlon said in a statement, per Montana Public Radio. "It's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ."

The Gazette didn't pull any punches.

"We're at a loss for words," said a column from its editorial board. "... While there are still questions left unanswered about GOP House hopeful Greg Gianforte's altercation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, eyewitness accounts, law enforcement investigations and records are all shocking, disturbing, and without precedent."

The Missoulian added in its editorial: "But there is no doubt that Gianforte committed an act of terrible judgment that, if it doesn't land him in jail, also shouldn't land him in the U.S. House of Representatives. He showed Wednesday night that he lacks the experience, brains and abilities to effectively represent Montana in any elected office."

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Greg Gianforte, the GOP candidate in the Montana special election, was charged with assault on election eve after reportedly body slamming a news reporter. The incident was witnessed by a Fox News team.
greg gianforte, montana, gop candidate, assault
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2017-01-25
Thursday, 25 May 2017 07:01 AM
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