- Dave Lawler
- May 24
GOP congressional candidate charged with assault
AP / file
Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for Montana's vacant House seat, allegedly bodyslammed a reporter for The Guardian on the eve of Thursday's special election.
In a statement Wednesday night, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said misdemeanor charges had been filed against Gianforte, who is due to appear in court early next month.
Ben Jacobs, the reporter, tweeted: "Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses." Gianforte's campaign has since claimed "aggressive behavior" by Jacobs caused the incident.
Audio from the incident appears to capture Gianfante shouting at Jacobs to "get the hell out of here," and a witness said Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and threw him to the ground.
Jacobs also called in to MSNBC's All in With Chris Hayes to tell his story:
Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna witnessed the incident. An excerpt from her account:
"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 man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of "I'm sick and tired of this!"
To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff's deputies."
Alexis Levinson, a reporter for Buzzfeed News, was just outside the room. She described Jacobs receiving treatment, police taking statements and Gianforte waiting in a car before driving off more than an hour before the event was scheduled to end.
Whitney Bermes, a crime reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, said Jacobs had reported the incident to the police, who had confirmed "they are investigating assault involving Gianforte."
Why it matters: Gianforte, a tech entrepreneur, had consistently led in the polls in the historically red district. Buoyed by massive fundraising and high-profile support from the likes of Bernie Sanders, Democrat Rob Quist had cut Gianforte's lead to single digits. Now this throws another unknown into the race just hours before polls open.
Full statement from Gianforte campaign
"Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoving a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. 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."
Transcript of the audio recording
Jacobs: "... the CBO score, because you know you've been waiting to make your decision about healthcare until you saw the bill and it just came out."
Jacobs: "You'd like me to get out of here, I'd also like to call the police."