Audio of Greg Gianforte assaulting Ben Jacobs corroborated by Fox News journalists in the room, who described nominee slamming him to the ground
The Republican candidate for Montanas congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the states special election, breaking his glass and shouting: Get the hell out of here.
Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly body-slammed the reporter.
He took me to the ground, Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. I think he whaled on me once or twice He got on me and I think he reach me This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.
Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianfortes campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published on the Fox News website. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his topic, Acuna wrote: Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.
Faith, Keith and I watched in skepticism as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began hollering something to the effect of Im sick and tired of this! To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs indicate any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after dedicating statements to local sheriffs deputies.
Jacobs subsequently reported the incident to the police. The Gallatin county sheriffs office said on Wednesday night it had completed its investigation and that Gianforte had been issued with a charge of misdemeanour assault.
Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin county sheriffs office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault, sheriff Brian Gootkin said in a statement. The nature of the traumata did not fulfill the statutory elements of felony assault. Greg Gianforte received a citation on Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin county justice tribunal between now and 7 June 2017.
A statement by campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon blamed Jacobs for the altercation, saying that he entered the office without permission, aggressively jostle a recorder in Gregs face, and began asking badgering questions.
Jacobs was asked to leave, the statement reads. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Gregs wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.
Its unfortunate that this aggressive behaviour from a liberal journalist made this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.
Scanlons account iscontradicted by audio of the abortive interview recorded by Jacobs, as well as the Fox News account. The audio does not capture Jacobs being asked to leave or lower his recorder, but does contain an apparent reference to the Guardians previous attempts to report on Gianforte.Im sick and tired of you guys, Gianforte told. 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 violated my glass, Jacobs responded.