Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte issued a full apology and agreed to donate $50,000 to a journalism protection group on Wednesday, the same day a judge granted him an extension to June 20 to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court to face a misdemeanor assault charge against a reporter.
"My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful," Gianforte wrote to reporter Ben Jacons, The Guardian reported. "As both a candidate for office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public. My treatment of you did not meet that standard."
The apology and donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists was part of a deal to settle any civil action.
As for the criminal case, the request filed Tuesday by former U.S. Attorney William Mercer and Bozeman attorney Todd Whipple says they are in settlement talks with prosecutors. Justice of the Peace Rick West granted the extension Wednesday.
Gianforte had faced a Wednesday deadline to appear in a Justice Court over allegations that he attacked Jacobs the night before last month's special congressional election in Montana.
Jacobs said he was "body slammed" by Gianforte on May 24 while he was trying to ask him a question about a health care bill.
Gianforte won Montana's only congressional seat, despite the last-minute fracas at his Bozeman campaign headquarters. He is not expected to be sworn in until later this month.
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