BREAKING: Rob Quist opponent Greg Gianforte unleashed rage on reporter
Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte assaults Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs during an interview on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
Audio obtained of Greg Gianforte attacking a reporter on the eve of a special election to fill a congressional seat vacated by a member of the Trump administration.
The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting, “Get the hell out of here.”
Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire running for the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.
“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.”
Jacobs subsequently reported the incident to the police. Gianforte’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Audio of the abortive interview recorded by Jacobs captures the altercation, and appears to reference previous questioning from another Guardian reporter. “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said. “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! You just broke my glasses,” Jacobs replied.
“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte said.
“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacob said.
“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte yelled.
The altercation took place at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana. 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.
“Ben walked into a room where a local tv crew was set up for an interview with Gianforte. All of a sudden I heard a giant crash and saw Ben’s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor,” she said on Twitter. “Heard very angry yelling (as did all the volunteers in the room) – sounded like Gianforte.”
— Whitney Bermes (@wabermes) May 24, 2017
Listen to me get body slammed in Montana https://t.co/I8hAUsmuWw
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 25, 2017
In an era of extreme congressional partisanship, toeholds like the Montana seat are valuable ground for both Republicans and Democrats. The race between Gianforte and his opponent, Democrat Rob Quist, has been tight, and NPR reported that Republican groups had poured millions of dollars into anti-Quist advertising in service of their candidate.
Blake Montgomery, another Buzzfeed reporter, tweeted that Gianforte left his own event without speaking while deputies took witness statements.
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