Ben Jacobs, the political reporter for The Guardian, tweeted on Wednesday that Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican candidate running in a special election, assaulted him by “body slamming” him while he was trying to get a comment. Audio of the altercation surfaced immediately afterward.
“Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” he tweeted.
Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017
“There was a local TV crew there when Gianforte body slammed me,” he added, saying that they would have audio of the incident soon.
Gianforte is an engineer and businessman who ran unsuccessfully for the governorship of Montana, and is now running for Montana’s seat for the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election to fill the vacant seat of Ryan Zinke. Zinke joined President Trump’s administration as the Secretary of the Interior. The special election is set for the day after the alleged assault.
The audio has Jacobs asking about the CBO score for the Republican health care bill that was had just been released Wednesday. There’s a loud crash, and then some yelling.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” Gianforte yells. “The last guy that came in here did the same thing! Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing!”
The Gianforte campaign released a statement appearing to blame the reporter for the altercation.
“The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission,” the statement explained, “aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions. 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,” the statement concluded.
Prior to the altercation, polls showed the race was very close.