Greg Gianforte, a Republican running for an open congressional seat in Montana, has been charged with misdemeanor assault following a confrontation on Wednesday with a reporter for The Guardian.
In the recording below, you can hear Ben Jacobs ask Gianforte about the Republican healthcare plan, which passed Congress a couple weeks ago and which will lead to 23 million American losing their insurance, according to a new non-partisan study.
The bill will soon be voting on by the Senate and Jacobs wanted Gianforte to respond to the latest Congressional Budget Office analysis of the proposal.
Agitated by the inquiry, Gianforte initially brushed it off and then appears to have turned violent once Jacobs continued to press for a response.
“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” Gianforte can be heard saying in the following video, which includes sounds of a physical struggle and a crash.
“The last time you came here you did the same thing," Gianforte adds. "Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here.”
“You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses," Jacobs replies, asking for the names of the staffers present and stating he plans to call the police.
A spokesperson for Gianforte does not dispute that an altercation took place.
But claims the candidate was provoked.
“After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined,” said Shane Scanlon, adding:
“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.”
Nowhere in the recording, however, does Gianforte request for any phone to be lowered.
Moreover, members of a Fox News television crew witnessed the encounter and did not back up this account.
In a statement on the Fox News website, one of the journalists described Gianforte as “punching the reporter” and, as Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, they said he started yelling something to the effect of, "I'm sick and tired of this!"
To be clear, adds this Fox News statement, 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.
Local police said on Wednesday night it had completed its investigation and that Gianforte had been issued with a charge of misdemeanour assault.
If convicted, Gianforte faces up to a $500 fine, or six months in jail, or both.
Three newspapers, meanwhile, have withdrawn their endorsement of the candidate.
Montana residents will vote on Thursday, May 25 to fill the U.S. House seat vacated in March by now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Listen to audio of this crazy incident below: