assault charge for allegedly body-slamming a reporter.
Gianforte had been silent following the allegations, with his campaign only releasing a statement claiming that The Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs had been the aggressor. But speaking at his victory party in Bozeman shortly after the race was called, Gianforte admitted he was in the wrong and apologized to Jacobs.
“[Wednesday] night I made a mistake, and I took an action that I can’t take back, and I’m not proud of what happened,” Gianforte said. “I should not have responded in the way that I did, and for that, I’m sorry.
“I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that, I’m sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs,” the congressman-elect continued. “That’s not the person I am, and that’s not the way I’ll lead in this state.”
Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist to win the seat formerly held by Ryan Zinke, whom President Trump tapped earlier this year to be his interior secretary. According to the Associated Press, with 98 percent of the vote in, Gianforte was winning 50 percent to Quist’s 44 percent. Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks was taking 6 percent.
The race was roiled in the final hours following Gianforte’s alleged assault of Jacobs after the reporter asked him about the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the GOP health care bill, the American Health Care Act.
According to audio from Jacobs, after he pressed Gianforte for his reaction to the CBO score, the candidate body-slammed him to the ground, breaking his glasses and injuring his elbow. Three Fox News reporters who were in the room preparing for an interview with Gianforte also witnessed the incident and confirmed that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground … then began punching the reporter.”
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