Montana Republican candidate charged with assault for reporter altercation

GOP House candidate Greg Gianforte of Montana is facing misdemeanor assault charges after attacking a liberal newspaper reporter who got in his face one too many times.

Running in Thursday’s special election, Gianforte was cited hours before the polls opened for a fight that occurred on Wednesday evening at his campaign headquarters. According to reports, Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs questioned Gianforte about the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act.

Gianforte told Jacobs to talk to his press officer, but the reporter persisted, and after a while, witnesses say that Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands, slammed him into the ground, then punched the reporter while yelling, “I’m sick and tired of you guys! The last guy did the same thing! Get the hell out of here.”

According to a statement from Gianforte’s campaign, “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.”

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office stated that the nature of the injuries “did not meet the statutory elements of a felony assault.”

The incident resulted in two Montana newspapers taking back their earlier endorsements of Gianforte.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running with the story, determined to post a slew of Facebook ads that might encourage Democratic voters to come out and vote against Gianforte on Thursday. The Committee has also called for the GOP candidate to drop out of the race, and they want the Republican Party to publicly denounce him.

Facing a maximum $500 fine or six months in jail if convicted, Gianforte is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between Wednesday night and June 7.

The audio clip of the altercation can be viewed below:

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