Montana GOP candidate accused of assaulting reporter

A Republican Congressional candidate in Montana has been charged with misdemeanor assault, following an altercation with a reporter at a barbecue for campaign volunteers in Bozeman.

Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs tweeted he was “body slammed” Greg Gianforte, the Republican running for the seat left open by Ryan Zinke, now Secretary of the Interior.

Jacobs went into a room where Gianforte was being interviewed by a Fox News crew, to ask about the candidate’s response to the Congressional Budget Office’s review of the second draft of the American Health Care Act, released on Wednesday.

Jacobs has released the audio recorded: it can be heard here.

Gianforte’s campaign spokesperson Shane Scanlon sent out an email deflecting the accusation.It says, in part:

“Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.”

It also states that: “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.”

A Fox News crew was in the room as well. Reporter Alicia Acuna shared her version of the story, which aligns with Jacobs’ account.

“At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him… as Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this,” she wrote in an article detailing the experience.

What impact, if any, the incident will have on Thursday’s special election is unclear. The Bozeman Chronicle reported that there are just short of 700 thousand registered voters in Montana.As of Wednesday, almost 260,000 of those votes had already been cast by absentee ballots.