Reporter: Montana House GOP candidate ‘body-slammed’ me – Politico

Greg Gianforte is pictured.

“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?” Greg Gianforte told a Guardian reporter. | Getty

05/24/2017 08:36 PM EDT

Updated 05/24/2017 08:58 PM EDT

Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly “body-slammed” a reporter on Wednesday at a campaign event.

Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian tweeted that Gianforte “body slammed me and broke my glasses” at a campaign event in Bozeman, Montana. Other reporters on the scene confirmed via Twitter that they witnessed some sort of altercation between the two and that police were called to the scene.

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In audio of the incident posted by the Guardian Gianforte can clearly be heard getting upset. In it, Jacobs asks Gianforte about the Republican health care bill. Gianforte tells him “let me talk to you about that later” as Jacobs continues trying to ask a question. “Speak with Shane,” Gianforte says, referring to his spokesman.

A crashing can then be heard, as Gianforte yells: “I’m sick and tired of you guys.”

“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 says.

“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte says.

“You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacob says.

“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte yells.

“I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like this before,” BuzzFeed reporter Alexis Levinson, who was on the scene, tweeted in a long thread. “This happened behind a half-closed door, so I didn’t see it all, but here’s what it looked like from the outside. Ben walked into a room where a local TV crew was set up for an interview with Gianforte. All of a sudden, I heard a giant crash and saw Ben’s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor.”

“Ben walked out holding his broken glasses in his hand and said: “He just body-slammed me,” Levinson continued.

The incident occurred the day before Thursday’s special House election in Montana to replace Ryan Zinke, who is now the Trump administration’s Secretary of the Interior. Gianforte, a technology executive, is running against Democrat Rob Quist, a folk singer and first-time candidate. The race is turning out to be closer than many thought the traditional Republican stronghold would be.

Whitney Bermes, a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, tweeted that the police were called to the scene. The Daily Chronicle also reported that Jacobs was treated by an ambulance on the scene, and Bermes later tweeted that one person was transferred to the hospital.

“Gianforte sitting in a Jeep. Sheriff’s deputies were talking to him earlier. Now a medic is at the window talking with him,” Bermes also tweeted.

Gianforte then left the event before he was scheduled to speak, according to reporter tweets.

On its web site, the Gallatin County Sherrifs Office confiremd that it is currently investigating “allegations of an assault involving Greg Gianforte,” saying it would provide more information when appropriate.

In a statement, Gianforte spokesperson Shane Scanlon said the incident was a result of Jacobs being “aggressive” and blamed the reporter for creating a scene.

“Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, 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,” Scanlon said. “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.”

In the audio posted by The Guardian, which does not include the entire interaction, no one is heard asking Jacobs to lower his recorder.

Jacobs and The Guardian did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committeee called on Gianforte to drop out of the race, “after his alleged violent assault of an innocent journalist,” spokesman Tyler Law said.

Elena Schneider and Gabriel Debenedetti contributed to this report.


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