Last night we wrote about Montana's Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte who reportedly "body slammed" Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs during an interview after being pressed for his opinion on the CBO healthcare score. Gianforte is the Republican candidate in today's special election for Montana's open U.S. House seat...but we're sure it's just a coincidence that this happened one day before the election.
Not surprisingly, we learn this morning that Gianforte has been officially slapped with a "misdemeanor assault" charge by the Gallatin County Sheriff's office which carries with it a maximum fine of up to $500 and/or 6 months in jail if convicted.
According to The Hill, Gianforte's campaign offered a slightly different version of Jacob's story which suggests the Guardian reporter encroached on "a separate interview in a private office" and "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face."
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.
That said, eyewitness accounts from local Fox News reporters who were on the scene for their scheduled interview seem to debunk Gianforte's rendition of the altercation.
“Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” said Fox reporter Alicia Acuna.
Acura and others “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!'" she said.
Meanwhile, Democrats are already demanding that Gianforte withdraw from the race in which voting has already begun.
“Greg Gianforte must immediately withdraw his candidacy after his alleged violent assault of an innocent journalist,” said Tyler Law, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The group also launched an 11th-hour Facebook ad campaign highlighting the episode in hopes of swaying voters heading to the polls Thursday.
For those who missed it, here is audio of the altercation released by Jacobs last night:
Of course, Gianforte was originally expected to win Montana's only house seat by wide margin...we'll know in about 12 hours whether the Jacob's incident will change that outcome.