Law enforcement officials in Montana have charged Republican House candidate Greg Gianforte with misdemeanor assault after a physical altercation against The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs Wednesday evening in the candidate’s Bozeman campaign headquarters. Gianforte is running in a special election to Congress, being held Thursday.
The assault was recorded on audio and witnessed by other journalists.
According to Jacobs, and corroborated by other journalists and the audio recording, Gianforte body-slammed him and broke his glasses as the reporter asked questions about health care reform and ObamaCare repeal plans. The candidate denies the charges.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin posted a release Wednesday night confirming Gianforte had been cited 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,” the statement reads. “The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.”
The campaign released a statement saying the reporter intruded on “a separate interview in a private office” and “aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face.” Shane Scanlon, spokesman for the campaign, said
“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 write, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.”
Eyewitnesses include three Fox News journalists, including reporter Alicia Acuna. She stated she and others “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!'”
Gianforte is running for a special election to Congress against Democrat Rob Quist to replace former Rep. Ryan Zinke, who was nominated by President Trump to be Secretary of the Interior.
Click here to listen to The Guardian reporter Jacobs’ audio recording.