Published: Fri, May 26, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

GOP candidate charged with misdemeanor assault of reporter

GOP candidate charged with misdemeanor assault of reporter

Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for the Guardian, was asking tech millionaire Gianforte - who has been endorsed by US President Donald Trump - about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly attacked.

"The only thing in Gianforte's statement that is factually correct is my name and my place of employment", Jacobs said. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has also denounced Gianforte's actions.

A Democratic upset in the race would set off alarms for Republicans already anxious about the effects of Trump's unpopularity and the healthcare issue on their candidates in next year's midterm elections, when Republicans must defend their 24-seat House majority.

Callatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said four witnesses were being interviewed. He faces a maximum of six months in a jail and a $500 fine.

After Jacobs left, Gianforte apologized to the Fox crew.

In a statement, Shane Scanlon, a spokesman for Gianforte's campaign, alleged that Jacobs crashed an interview Gianforte was giving another reporter "and began asking badgering questions", adding that "Jacobs was asked to leave".

"Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter".

Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs tweeted that Gianforte "body slammed" him during a campaign event, the Hill reports.

"There is no time when a physical altercation should occur with the press, or just between human beings", Ryan said at a press conference.

In an audio recording posted by the newspaper, Gianforte can be heard saying that he was "sick and exhausted of you guys" and to "get the hell out of here".

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Jacobs joined New Day for his first interview since the incident, which landed Gianforte with a misdemeanor assault charge, and Chris Cuomo asked him whether the candidate's statement was accurate. There is no clear definition, however, for what might constitute "aggressive" recording-shoving.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is backing Rob Quist in the race, opens the ad by posing the question, "What happens when you ask Greg Gianforte a question?"

Buzzfeed reporter Alexis Levinson also partially confirmed the story, saying she heard shouting from the adjacent room before Jacobs walked out holding broken glasses and saying he had been body-slammed by Gianforte.

The 45-second recording does not contain a request from Gianforte that Jacobs lower his phone.

Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault and ordered to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court.

"I decided there was no harm in asking one question, and the worst thing that could happen was they would tell me to go to hell", Jacobs said.

Newspapers quickly pulled their support for the Republican candidate.

The president and vice president both traveling to the state to try and boost the campaign. The likelihood of a last-minute shake-up is limited because of Montana's early voting.

The DCCC called on Gianforte to drop out of the race. On Wednesday evening, he said he could not understand why the scuffle took place.

Some who voted for Quist said they were optimistic some Independent voters would change their vote as a result of the news, but said die-hard supporters on either side of the aisle would find the good in their candidate. Republicans have held Montana's lone House seat for two decades and Gianforte was still favored in a state that Trump won by more than 20 percentage points in the 2016 election.

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