(Yahoo) – On the eve of a special election to fill Montana’s House seat, the Republican candidate allegedly assaulted a journalist who was trying to ask him about the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the House health care bill.
A violent altercation ensued, and the reporter, the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, quickly relayed the incident on social media.
“Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs tweeted Wednesday evening. In audio released of the incident, Jacobs asks Gianforte a question about the latest CBO scoring of the Affordable Health Care Act.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said, as what sounds like a struggle can be heard on the recording. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”
“Yes! You just broke my glasses,” Jacobs replied.
“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte said.
“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacob said.
“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte yelled.
Jacobs said he went to a local hospital to get an X-ray on his elbow. Gianforte left the event, and members of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office were taking statements at the scene. Earlier on Wednesday, Jacobs had published a story in the Guardian about financial ties between Gianforte and Russian companies under U.S. sanctions.
The sheriff’s office initially released a statement Wednesday evening saying it was “investigating allegations of assault involving Greg Gianforte.” As interest in the story grew, a press conference was called hours later. Sheriff Brian Gootkin said he was looking into whether Gianforte had fled the scene. “That will be part of the investigation,” Gootkin said.
Jacobs’ account of the incident was corroborated by Fox News Alicia Acuna, who was in the room to interview Gianforte at the time the violence occurred. Acuna said Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and slammed him to the ground before punching him repeatedly.
“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,” Acuna wrote in her account of the attack.
Gianforte spokesperson Shane Scanlon released a statement Wednesday that appeared to be at odds both with the audio recording of the incident as well as Acuna’s retelling of it.
“Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office,” Scanlon said in the statement, “the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved 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 aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”
Most people would see this as a negative, I don’t see it that way.
Clearly the left, and Gianforte’s opponent, will take full advantage of the situation and make Gianforte out to be an unstable monster.
But lets remember that he’s running in Montana. One of the most bad ass states in the Union.
If anything, this should give him a boost in the polls after Montanans see that their future Congressman isn’t a candy ass.