A Republican congressional candidate has been charged with assault after he allegedly “body-slammed” a reporter from the Guardian at a campaign event in Montana.
According to NBC News, Greg Gianforte has been cited for misdemeanor assault after multiple witnesses say they saw and heard the politician physically lash out at Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs at an event in Bozeman on the eve of a special election for Montana’s open congressional seat.
Jacobs, who had previously reported on Gianforte’s investments in Russian companies that are under sanction by the United States, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that he was attempting to ask Gianforte questions about Wednesday’s Congressional Budget Analysis of the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act when the candidate lashed out at him.
“The next thing I know, I’m being body-slammed,” Jacobs said.
“He’s on top of me. My glasses are broken … It’s the strangest moment that’s happened in my entire life reporting.”
CNN’s Anderson Cooper obtained audio recording of the alleged incident, which is now available on YouTube.
In it, Gianforte can be heard raising his voice at Jacobs during the altercation.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys! The last time you came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here! Get the hell out of here!”
Alicia Acuna, a reporter for Fox News Channel, was at the event and wrote on the Fox website that she witnessed the alleged assault.
As Jacobs was attempting to ask the candidate questions, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” she said.
“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.”
Jacobs posted messages about the incident to Twitter.
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
Listen to me get body slammed in Montana https://t.co/I8hAUsmuWw
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 25, 2017
Jacobs, who does not appear to have been seriously hurt, was reportedly taken from the scene by ambulance and was treated at a hospital. Gianforte also left the scene in a Jeep shortly after the incident.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin told NBC News that the reporter’s injuries did not warrant a felony charge, and said that investigators are looking into whether Gianforte committed a crime by exiting the scene.
Photo: Associated Press