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The Latest: Gianforte to enter plea in assault case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on an assault charge against U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

A Montana justice of the peace has set a Monday hearing for U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte to enter a plea and be sentenced on a misdemeanor assault charge involving a reporter.

Gallatin County Justice of the Peace Rick West made his decision Thursday about the arraignment of the Republican.

Gianforte is accused of knocking Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the ground when Jacobs tried to question him on a health care bill in Congress.

Gianforte previously reached a civil settlement agreement with Jacobs, in which the reporter said he wouldn’t object to Gianforte filing a no contest plea.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of six months behind bars and a $500 fine.

A no contest plea would allow Gianforte to concede to the offense without entering a guilty plea.

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12:50 p.m.

U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana is requesting a Monday court appearance on a misdemeanor assault charge against a reporter.

Thursday’s court filing by the Republican’s attorneys asks that Gianforte be arraigned and sentenced at the same hearing.

Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert says he expects the case to be wrapped up then.

On Wednesday, Gianforte and Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs reached a civil settlement that included Jacobs agreeing not to object to Gianforte pleading no contest to the criminal charge.

A no contest charge allows Gianforte to concede to the charge without entering a guilty plea.

The maximum penalty for misdemeanor assault is six months in prison and a $500 fine.

Gianforte is accused of attacking Jacobs the day before Montana’s special congressional election when the reporter asked him a question.

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8:50 p.m. Wednesday

U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana says in an apology letter that he “had no right to assault” a reporter.

Gianforte’s letter to reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian dated Wednesday is part of a settlement with Jacobs in which the reporter agrees not to object to Gianforte entering a plea of “no contest” to a misdemeanor assault charge.

The Republican will contribute $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists as part of the settlement agreement.

Jacobs says he hopes the episode will reinforce respect for freedom of the press and encourage more civil discourse.

Jacobs previously said he was “body slammed” by Gianforte on the day before the May 25 special congressional election in Montana when the reporter tried to ask him a question.

Gianforte won the election and was charged with misdemeanor assault.

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