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Montana Candidate Charged With Assaulting Reporter

Reporter says Gianforte body-slammed him
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2017 1:17 AM CDT
Updated May 25, 2017 6:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Republican candidate Greg Gianforte may have blown the race for Montana's only House seat on the eve of the election. Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault Wednesday evening after allegedly attacking Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, Politico reports. In an account backed up by an audio recording and statements from a Fox News crew, Jacobs says Gianforte slammed him to the ground, breaking his glasses, after he asked him a question at a campaign event. "He took me to the ground," Jacobs says. "He got on me and I think he hit me ... This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics." In the audio, Gianforte can be heard saying, "I'm sick and tired of you guys!" and "get the hell out out of here!"

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Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna says after Jacobs asked Gianforte a question about the American Health Care Act, the candidate "grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him." She says she saw no aggression at all from the reporter. A Gianforte spokesman, however, blamed the incident on "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist" before the Republican's final campaign rally. Gianforte is in a tighter race than expected with Democratic folk singer Rob Quist for the seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, the Trump administration's interior secretary. Hours before the Thursday vote, the Billings Gazette yanked its endorsement of Gianforte, saying it "simply cannot trust him." (Read more Montana stories.)

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