UPDATE June 8, 8:08 a.m.: Montana Republican Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte pledged on Wednesday to donate $50,000 to a journalism advocacy group as part of his formal apology to the Guardian reporter he allegedly body-slammed the night before a special election.
Gianforte's donation will go to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
"My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful," Gianforte wrote in a letter to Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.
I had no right to respond the way I did to your legitimate question about healthcare policy. You were doing your job.
You can read the full apology letter obtained by Politico here.
UPDATE May 26, 5:55 a.m. EST: The Associated Press declared Republican Greg Gianforte the winner in Montana's special congressional election Thursday night, barely a day after he was charged with misdemeanor assault following accusations that he slammed a journalist to the ground.
Gianforte, 55, a technology entrepreneur, held a 50 percent-to-44 percent lead over Democrat Rob Quist shortly after 12 a.m. ET, with nearly half of precincts reporting, according to CNBC.
WATCH | Guardian reporter alleges he was assaulted by a congressional candidate
White House spox has "no comment" on whether POTUS stands by Gianforte endorsement. VP's office is not responding to q's on that.— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) May 25, 2017
UPDATE 12:44 a.m. EST: Gianforte has been projected to win the congressional election.
UPDATE 11:44 a.m. EST: House Speaker Paul Ryan called on Gianforte to apologize.
UPDATE 10:03 a.m. EST: Democrats are looking to capitalize on the incident.
UPDATE May, 25, 6:41 a.m. EST:
The Gallatin County Sheriff's Department announced that it charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault early on Thursday.
The maximum penalty for said crime, if Gianforte is convicted, is a $500 fine and six months in jail. Gianforte will be due to appear in court before June 7.
ORIGINAL STORY: Political reporter for The Guardian Ben Jacobs claimed he was body slammed to the floor by Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate running in Montana's special congressional election, on Wednesday night at a campaign event in Bozeman. The reported assault was recorded on audio where Gianforte shouted, "Get the hell out of here."
The incident occurred after Jacobs pressed the Republican candidate, who's hoping to fill a seat vacated by Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, about health care.
According to Jacobs, the audio was provided by a local TV network.
Gianforte can be heard yelling, "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?”
Jacobs responded, "Yes! You just broke my glasses."
"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 screamed.
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said to the Guardian from the back of an ambulance. “This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
“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.
Shane Scanlon, a spokesperson for Greg for Montana campaign said, "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. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined."
He continued, "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."
This happened behind a half closed door, so I didn't see it all, but here's what it looked like from the outside -— Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson) May 24, 2017
The abrasive incident was partially confirmed by BuzzFeed News reported Alexis Levinson.
In subsequent tweets, Levinson reported the timeline of events, "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. Heard very angry yelling (as did all the volunteers in the room) - sounded like Gianforte. I can't quite remember the order but the next few things were someone slamming the door, Gianforte's Spox walking into the room, Ben walked out holding his broken glasses in his hand and said 'he just bodyslammed me.' The aide came over and hold him he had to leave."
She continued, "Ben left, Gianforte and his aide went into a room and closed the door. Stayed there for about ten minutes. Then they walked out and only the aide came back in."
In subsequent tweets, Levinson said Gianforte left without speaking at the event and his aides wouldn't confirm what was happening. Gallatin County Sheriffs subsequently took witness statements.
The Gallatin Sheriff's office have asked people to stop calling 911 for information about what had happened. A news conference will be held at 10 p.m. EST.