UPDATE [5/25/17, 9:48 a.m. EST]: Greg Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault.
UPDATE [5/24/17, 11:02 p.m. EST]: A Fox News reporter who apparently witnessed the altercation between Gianforte and Jacobs disputed the account provided by the GOP candidate’s campaign:
During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if him if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.
At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and 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!”
Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken. He asked Faith, Keith and myself for our names. In shock, we did not answer. He then said he wanted the police called and went to leave. Gianforte looked at the three of us and repeatedly apologized. At that point, I told him and Scanlon, who was now present, that we needed a moment. The men then left.
The Fox News reporter, Alicia Acuna, said she never witnessed Jacobs exhibiting any “aggressive” behavior as Gianforte’s alleged.
Original story below.
The Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs was allegedly “body slammed” by the leading Republican candidate Greg Gianforte in the race for the open Montana congressional seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
The altercation reportedly occurred at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana. The candidate was conducting another interview when Jacobs tried to ask a question about the new GOP health care bill CBO scoring.
In the audio recording, you can hear Jacobs ask a question about the new CBO scoring of the bill, followed by chaos, shouting, and cursing. According to The Guardian account of the altercation:
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.” […]
Gianforte was in a side room with a local television news crew when Jacobs attempted to ask his question, according to Jacobs.
“I decided there was no harm in asking one question, and the worst thing that could happen was they would tell me to go to hell,” Jacobs said.
The audio of the altercation, which you can listen to above, was also transcribed by CNN’s Ryan Prior:
The Gianforte campaign released this statement:
The local Sheriff’s office is investigating the incident, according to reports. The race for the coveted congressional seat is a close one. NPR has Democratic challenger Rob Quist polling within the low single digits of Gianforte in the state Trump won by more than 20 points.