Yesterday evening a Republican candidate in Montana’s special election body slammed a reporter from the Guardian after he was asked about Republican plans for an Obamacare repeal.
This morning Montana law enforcement have charged GOP House candidate Greg Gianforte with misdemeanour assault against journalist Ben Jacobs.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin issued a statement last night confirming the charges:
“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 assaul. The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.”
The altercation occurred mere hours before voting began, and it is unknown how badly Gianforte’s offence will affect his chances of winning.
Gianforte is expected to appear in court before June 7. He faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
The Guardian has released an audio recording of the incident (see below), during which Gianforte initially tried to deflect Jacob’s questions about the new Congressional Budget Office score of Republican health care legislation.
“We’ll talk to you about that later,” Gianforte says in the recording.
“Yeah, but there’s not going to be time,” Jacobs says. “I’m just curious about it right now.”
Gianforte asks Jacobs to contact his spokesman but before the reporter can respond sounds of a scuffle erupted. Gianforte screams “I’m sick and tired of you guys. The last guy who came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!”
“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs says. He later posted pictures of the broken glasses from the back of an ambulance.
Gianforte’s office has offered an alternate account of events, saying Jacobs encroached on “a separate interview in a private office” and “aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face.”
However eyewitness accounts corroborate Jacobs story. Even a Fox News reporter agreed. Fox reporter Alicia Acuna said:
“Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. I 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!'”
Democrats have pounced on this story. Tyler Law, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said: “Greg Gianforte must immediately withdraw his candidacy after his alleged violent assault of an innocent journalist.”
It appears that President Donald Trump’s attitude to journalists is spreading throughout the Republican party.
Gianforte should rescind his candidacy for the election. His behavior clearly demonstrates his unsuitability as a public servant. If Gianforte deals with stress by being violent, how is he going to behave on Capitol Hill when things don’t go his way?
This unacceptable treatment of journalists as enemies of the state has to stop. It is indicative of what Republicans really think of the free press.
These attitudes and behaviours have no place in our democracy.
Listen to an audio recording of the assault below: