The Republican candidate to fill Montana’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives allegedly slammed a reporter to the ground at his campaign headquarters the day before the election.
Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian, wrote on Twitter Wednesday evening that Greg Gianforte “just body slammed [sic] me and broke my glasses.”
The paper later posted audio recorded by a local TV crew of the altercation between Jacobs and Gianforte, which took place at the candidate’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman.
In the audio, Jacobs attempts to ask Gianforte a question about the CBO scoring of House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
“We’ll talk to you about that later,” Gianforte answers.
“Yeah, but there’s not going to be time–” Jacobs begins, before Gianforte says “Speak with [spokesman] Shane [Scanlon], please.” At that point, the sound of someone falling over is heard.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte yells. “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, and you just broke my glasses,” Jacobs replies.
“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte says.
“You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs says.
“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte repeats.
“You’d like me to get the hell out of here, I’d also like to call the police,” Jacobs says as the recording ends.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that Jacobs was evaluated at the scene and was taken to a local hospital. Gianforte left the area after speaking to local sheriff’s deputies and made no statement to reporters.
Scanlon later issued a statement saying that Jacobs “entered the [campaign] office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.”
Later, the statement added, “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 Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a statement calling on Gianforte to withdraw his candidacy and said Republicans “should not waste another minute before publicly denouncing their candidate and apologizing for the millions of dollars they spent on his behalf.”
Gianforte, a businessman who has strongly aligned himself with President Trump and the National Rifle Association, is facing Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks in Thursday’s special election to replace Ryan Zinke, who left Congress to become Interior Secretary.