Republican candidate in Montana race 'body-slams' reporter

And Ryan indicated that Gianforte, a wealthy tech company founder, would be welcome in the House Republican conference if he wins what appeared to be a tight race against Democrat Rob Quist.

Ryan says "that's wrong and should not happen".

Ben Jacobs told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he was doing his job and asking a question of candidate Greg Gianforte as part of covering Thursday's special election.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Gianforte "a wannabe Trump". In his previous unsuccessful bid for Montana governor in 2016, Gianforte distanced himself from Donald Trump. The sound of the confrontation was captured by Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. The charge carries a possible six months in jail and a $500 fine. Authorities said Jacobs' injuries weren't severe enough for a felony assault charge. After the incident, Scanlon released a campaign statement putting the onus on Jacobs, saying that he "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face and began asking badgering questions", prompting the candidate to act.

"To be clear", she wrote, "at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff's deputies".

Montana GOP hopeful charged with misdemeanor assault against Guardian reporter Greg Gianforte, who is running for an open House seat in Montana, is accused of body slamming a reporter.

Jacobs did not immediately respond to a request for further comment, but Guardian US editor Lee Glendinning said Thursday she was standing by her reporter's version of events.

"You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses", Jacobs says.

Montana GOP Sen. Steve Daines, who used to work for Gianforte's software company, told NBC News' Peter Alexander, "I've known Greg for 20 years". Gianforte: Get the hell out of here.

He blames the reporter for using "aggressive tactics".

Greg Gianforte was cited for grabbing a reporter by the throat and throwing him to the ground in his campaign office Wednesday night.

Gootkin previously had contributed $250 to Gianforte's campaign, according to elections records.

The 45-second recording does not contain a request from Gianforte that Jacobs lower his phone. Jacobs' account has been bolstered by audio posted online by the Guardian, and by multiple eyewitnesses, including a Fox News reporter.

Update: He has been charged with misdemeanor assault.

"They got my name right, they got my employer right, but other than that there was not a single factually correct element there".

Three of Montana's biggest newspapers pulled their endorsements of Gianforte but did not endorse his opponents.

A Democratic upset in the race would set off alarms for Republicans already anxious about the effects of Trump's unpopularity and the healthcare issue on their candidates in next year's midterm elections, when Republicans must defend their 24-seat House majority. Gianforte had held his party's nominee at an arm's length but during the special election, he embraced the president, welcoming Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. for campaign visits and using the president's "Drain the swamp" catchphrase.

Gianforte and Quist are seeking to fill the US House seat left vacant when Ryan Zinke resigned to join Trump's cabinet as secretary of the Interior Department. Trump's approval rating in ruby red Montana is probably under 50 percent, and it's even worse nationally.

Gianforte canceled a television appearance on MSNBC scheduled for Thursday night amid reports that Montana voters were calling state and county election officials in the hopes of changing their early votes.

  • Leroy Wright