On the eve of what could be a very special day for a Montana Republican candidate, some controversy might put a hold on complete celebration if he wins the election.
Ben Jacobs, a political reporter based in Washington, D.C., accused Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte of body-slamming him in his office Wednesday.
Gianforte’s campaign blamed Jacobs, saying the Guardian reporter was being aggressive and grabbed Gianforte.
Montana’s election for a congressional seat was set for Wednesday. Gianforte was running against Democrat Rob Quist.
According to Jacobs, he attempted to ask Gianforte a question about his healthcare plan at his campaign headquarters in Bozeman when he was told to leave. He did not leave immediately, and then was knocked over by Gianforte.
Audio taken from Jacobs’ recorder appears to show that Gianforte repeatedly told the reporter to “Get the hell out of here” after a scuffle ensued.
A reporter from BuzzFeed News seemed to confirm Jacobs’ claim that he was knocked over.
Fox News was in the room with Jacobs, and reported that not only did Gianforte slam him to the ground, but he got much more physical than even the Guardian reporter had accused.
“At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” Fox News’ Alicia Acuna wrote. “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!'”
The Gianforte campaign released a statement disputing that the incident was the Republican candidate’s fault.
“Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions,” reads a statement from Shane Scanlon, spokesperson for Gianforte.
“Jacobs was asked to leave. 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.”
Jacobs said Thursday of Gianforte’s account that “the only thing that is factually correct … is my name and place of employment.”
The Gallatin County sheriff’s office was investigating.